It’s a universal question – Why do bad things happen to good people? I don’t understand why we ask it. It’s a fallacy to think good people shouldn’t experience pain at some point in their life. Everyone does. Yet this lie often haunts us at the most vulnerable, painful points in our lives. While we all may wish to avoid the bad stuff, it happens to all of us. Life isn’t easy, bad stuff happens; the adventure is a matter of what comes your way, when, and how you deal with it.
Like you, I’ve had bad stuff happen to me and to those I love. As I study the Bible I see the following reasons for why bad things happen to good people.
- We choose it – Galatians 6:7 “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.” We all know smoking, junk food, drugs, workaholism, drink driving is bad for us so if we do these things and end up with cancer, diabetes, or burn out we are really reaping what we have sown into our lives.
- Character building – Romans 5:3-4“And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.” My pastor was told by God that his youngest son would be born with a physical condition. God told my pastor that this would be God’s way of developing the son’s character. A baby boy was born with double dislocated hips, very uncommon condition, that meant he was in and out of hospital with traction and plaster casts from ankles to armpits for the first eighteen months of his life. An unusual method of character development, but for this boy, that is what God chose.
- Character testing – Psalm 105:19 “Until the time came to fulfil his dreams, the Lord tested Joseph’s character.” The blood has yet to congeal, the wound so raw, you are barely breathing through the pain and there God is, asking you to forgive. What do you do? This is a test of character. You’ve just been promoted over your old boss. Gloating and revenge tempt you. What do you do? This is a test of character. You suddenly inherit a big stack of cash. You always said you’d sponsor a child if you had a little more money. What do you do? This is a test of character. God tested Joseph both in the good times and the bad times. Joseph passed every test. Do we? Or do we just whine and ask why?
- To save the lives of many – Genesis 50:20 “But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.” God led my Mum through melanoma cancer last year. It was a bad thing that happened. Yet God used it to open to her a whole new world she had not seen or experienced before – the world of The Big C. Through her sufferings God has given her many opportunities to speak to others in the world of cancer about Jesus. Without her bad stuff, the opportunity for good God stuff would never have happened.
- To show You God is with you – 2 Kings 6:15-17 “And when the servant of the man of God arose early and went out, there was an army, surrounding the city with horses and chariots. And his servant said to him, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” 16 So he answered, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” 17 And Elisha prayed, and said, “LORD, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” Then the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.” It’s often in times of bad that we sense the Lord is with us. On an ordinary day when we go about our normal routine we may not notice that God is with us. But when we feel threatened or stressed or overwhelmed, God’s presence can be magnified. We can sense others are praying for us. We may draw closer to God. We look and see that those who are with us are greater than those who are against us.
- To show Others God is with you – Daniel 3:25 “Look!” he answered, “I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.” In situations where others have curled up in the foetal position, jumped off cliffs or sunk into depression, you haven’t. As you work your way through betrayal, forgiveness, pain, it almost seems like there’s a peace about you. You don’t stay in the pain. You are healed, restored, move forward. Others don’t. What’s different about you? Jesus. It’s through some of our furnaces that others see Jesus is with us. If it wasn’t for these times, we would appear to be the same as every other good person.
I know this is not an easy subject and can be a painful one. For me these answers are enough. I am excited and inspired by them in the pain and out of pain. I acknowledge that for you they may not be enough. My purpose in writing today is not to just give you an all-inclusive answer, but to maybe trigger some thoughts and feelings that will lead you on a journey to a place where the answer you have is enough.
So I ask you to share some of your journey with other readers in the comments below in hope that your experiences may help them on their own journey.
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