Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?
Why do bad things happen to good people? It is debated in every generation. The question, and the manifold experiences evoked, is a heavy topic. Some who ask are deeply suffering, with genuine confusion. Others find it a ready argument to dismiss any consideration of faith. When I hear the question, I have a counterintuitive response. Through the challenges God has allowed in my life, my answer has become another question. I ask myself, why not? I do not mean this as a cynical attitude. It is quite the opposite. The why not can be a door into the deeper meaning of our existence and profound purpose in our difficulties. Rather than thrusting the why not as a weapon toward others, it is something I must first ask myself.
Living in a fallen world full of sin, evil, imperfection, and consequences to so many circumstances, hardship is inevitable. The Lord Jesus Himself guaranteed we would struggle when He said “in the world you have tribulation” (John 16:33). Job is a classic example of suffering. He endured more than most of us ever will. He had many deep questions, terrible conflict that plagued his heart. As he went along, what began for him as a response of pain and anguish grew into bitterness and self-righteousness. We read in Scripture that God did not answer a single one of his questions. Instead, through His own discourse, He basically said, “I am God”. It is here we find the profound resolution to the challenges we face. Not only is God enough in whatever we encounter, He is the answer to them. This is not just true for manageable problems and common trials, it remains true no matter how dark or extreme our ordeal.
The state of our lives with God is of primary importance. If we do not receive reconciliation from our sin in His Son, we have no connection with the Almighty. Without the source of ultimate hope, we can rely only on ourselves. We grope about alone in the dark, unable to answer or satisfy our pain.
In Jesus Christ, the ashes of our defeat and the anguish of suffering find redemptive healing. This is not because He will take it away immediately if we beg Him, or fix every problem we want to go away. What we have is Jesus Himself. To say He is enough is a tremendous understatement. The love and mercy of Christ infuses our lives with love and light so profound that joy meets us. When God does not remove a trial, His purpose is for us to cling to Him, while He shows Himself in it.
A sense of outrage can fill the question of why bad things happen to good people. It revolves around the word good. There is a sobering reality we need to examine, if we are going to evaluate the ones who deserve no hardship with a merit system, especially if it is ourselves. According to Jesus and the Bible, no one is good. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Everyone is on equal footing here. Whether a hardened criminal or the average Joe mowing his lawn, we are fallen. God is not raining constant disaster on us all, there are many reasons for adversity. However, notions of our good are faulty. The only way for any rightness is that not of our own, to receive the mercy and grace of God through the sacrifice of His Son and faith in Him. While we should never bludgeon those suffering with this truth, if we are going to make skeptical arguments against faith, it is something we must consider.
We are not to take a dismissive attitude to anyone’s pain. We are called to weep with those who weep (Romans 12:15). Nor should we dismiss our own and ignore our hearts turmoil. God does not, He is intimately aware of what we go through. Though He may not address the whys, He loves and cares for us more than we will ever know. Affliction hurts, there is are some wounds we will never fully get over. Yet, as I face my own question of why do bad things happen to good people, I ask why should it not happen to me? And if my focus is on how good I think I am, I have failed in a repentant attitude of humility before God. I am not exempt from trials. I am not excepted from the blows of human life. Jesus will carry me through them. As He does, He will show me more of Himself. I would never ask for trouble, but more of Him is all I could ever desire. Jesus is the joy and completion of our entire being. Have you received His love today?