A Tragic Death of Children on the Nativity: Why Does God Allow These Things?

Some children tragically perished on the night before the Nativity. The tragedy happened on the night of January 6 / 7 2020, in the village of Kuchery in the Borisoglebsky district of the Yaroslavl region. The Orthodox Skorikhin family went to sleep earlier in the evening in order to go to the festal Liturgy next morning together. Their house caught fire at about the midnight. The old wooden house was quickly enveloped in flames. Three children: Anastasia, eleven; John, eight; and Tatiana, five—perished. The parents, Alexei and Maria, narrowly escaped with severe injuries.


There are such sorrows when your blood runs cold and your voice falls silent. For who will restore the parents’ dearest and most precious children, in whom were their lives, their happiness, and their most cherished hopes? We are no angels—we are human beings; therefore, the loss of our children on earth is an inconsolable grief for us.

Here is a very simple rule of life: If you want to measure the depth of someone’s grief, try it on yourself. Compare the death of children with the possible loss of your own children. Put yourself in the place of the parents who have lost their children and you will see that no arguments make sense before the bereavement they are suffering. Explanations and arguments of reason are weak, admonitions do not work, and the words you pronounce turn out be false. So all sorts of edification stop with the tragic death of innocent children. So let no one express their judgment; rather, let everyone wholeheartedly pray for the reposed children and pray for the surviving parents with sympathy.

But why was this tragedy allowed? Why on the Nativity, when everybody is blessed with joy? Why did God not protect them on His feast?

I have Archpriest Vasily Romanyuk, his children, and his sorrow before my mind’s eye—two of his four daughters perished in a fire before Christmas as well. He was flying home at breakneck speed, praying as hard as he could, but his little ones were not saved. His oldest daughter was getting her siblings out of the house; she managed to get the youngest ones out, while two others were scared and hid in the wardrobe. The flames prevented her from getting back to them. The fire truck came without any water and got stuck near the pond. The tragedy was allowed to happen, as if by someone’s command from above. Fr. Vasily’s soul was tormented by various temptations, but he received consolation in a miraculous way: He saw the Mother of God holding his daughters’ hands, while they were rejoicing in ineffable joy. The Lord received them in the heavenly abodes.

Suffering is always a mystery. Mysteries are incomprehensible for people’s weak reasoning. We want to grasp the tragedy’s meaning from the perspective of our short life. This attempt is doomed to failure. For life on earth, possible earthly joys and achievements that have been taken away are never to return. But if there is something higher, inexpressible, something that rewards us for the sorrows of life on earth, then suffering is truly justified and makes sense.

The mystery of suffering is the mystery of God’s compassion towards us. Because God—ineffable Love, Omnipotence, and Eternity—became a mortal Man in order to suffer with us. The Theotokos experienced this mystery. She was still carrying Her Newborn in Her arms when His Passion and death were predicted to Her. He was still an Infant, but He was already presented with myrrh—a symbol of burial. He had not yet had time to set His foot on our sinful earth and others were already planning to kill Him. St. Pimen the Great (as was witnessed by his disciple, Abba Isaac) was vouchsafed to contemplate Golgotha in a vision: He saw the Cross on which the Savior was crucified and the Mother of God standing beside it weeping. Will any human being ever be able to soothe this lamentation? Nothing that is human will ever make up for the depth of maternal sorrow. Only the Divine can make up for this. And the Virgin Mary knows this.

The elementary truth is that suffering did not disappear after the Birth of Christ; for we wander outside the gates of Paradise. Losses where there is yawning, terrible injustice are inevitable. This injustice broke into our world because in our time we walked away from God ourselves. Evil invaded the world; and can evil ever be just?

True, suffering on earth is unavoidable; but since the Birth of Christ, it has had meaning. Actually, it is the crucible that melts our souls for paradisiacal beauty. It is the path to Paradise.

The mystery of suffering is the mystery of our salvation. The Son of God became a human Infant in order to take the fate of suffering babies on Himself. And not only them, but the fate of all who suffer unjustly.

The mystery of suffering is unfathomable. And even when we want to give our lives for others, God guides us along a more difficult path: Our most beloved, dearest and closest ones are taken away from us. It is harder to accept this. But no one is forgotten by God.

These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple: and He that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them.They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat.For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes (Rev. 7:14-17).

Priest Valery Dukhanin
Translated by Dmitry Lapa



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