The tragic death of Beau Biden inevitably raises questions about suffering and the nature of God. Is Joe Biden cursed? No — and neither are you when bad things happen to you or your family.
Joe Biden’s “curse”
There are no words to describe the kind of pain the Biden family is feeling as they prepare to bury the vice president’s 46-year-old son, Beau, on Saturday.
A husband, father, veteran and former Delaware Attorney General, Beau was in the prime of his life. That’s one of the things that makes his death so difficult to accept.
But this isn’t the first time tragedy has struck Joe Biden’s family:
- In 1972, when Beau was just three years old, he and his brother survived a car crash that killed his mother and sister as they drove home from buying a Christmas tree.
- In 1988, Joe Biden nearly died of a brain aneurysm. Doctors gave him a 35% chance of surviving surgery and an even smaller chance of living a normal life.
- in 2010, Beau suffered a mild stroke and in 2013, he was diagnosed with brain cancer, the disease that ultimately took his life.
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Bad things happen to all of us. But the bad things that have happened to the Biden family seem particularly tragic. Losing a spouse is difficult. Losing a spouse and a child is almost inconceivable.
But losing a spouse and two children? It has to make you wonder whether you’re cursed.
Jesus changes the way we experience tragedy
In our twisted logic, it’s comforting to think that Joe Biden is cursed. If nothing else, Joe Biden’s curse would explain why these tragedies keep happening to his family. And that means we’re safe because God hasn’t cursed us.
As rationalizations go, it’s neat. It’s tidy. And it’s totally wrong.
In Luke 13, we read:
There were some present who told him (Jesus) about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. He asked them, “Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were worse sinners than all other Galileans? No, I tell you,” … Or those eighteen who were killed when the tower of Siloam fell on them—do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others living in Jerusalem? No …”
In Jesus’ universe, asking why God lets tragedies happen and blaming God for suffering are losing propositions. And the attribution of tragedies and suffering to sin or the victim’s own actions is just as ignorant.
Jesus is God brought near in our suffering.
He understands our suffering because he’s endured it himself. Instead of orchestrating our demise, Jesus is the practical expression of a God of love, a God who grieves and mourns alongside us.
When we realize that in Jesus, God is a co-participant in our suffering, it transforms our worldview. It becomes more difficult to assign blame to the poor and the marginalized and the hurting because we know that Jesus suffers and struggles and grieves with them.
God hasn’t cursed Joe Biden. Jesus grieves and mourns with the vice president and his family.
And so do we.