Why do bad things happen to good people?

Perhaps one of the oldest questions is Why is there evil in the world? Or to put it a different way, why do bad things happen to good people? Where do we go for answers; what’s our authority? The Bible. But what exactly does the Bible say about such things? Certainly the most common answer we here is from the book of Job. There is much to learn there, but from a practical standpoint, but how do we use this information? Let’s look at two people of the bible, and what they had to say.

…there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. (2 Cor 12:7-8 NIV)

This is Paul talking, the guy who wrote a significant part of the New Testament. While we may argue exactly what Paul’s thorn was, apparently he prayed three times for it to be removed, and each time the answer was no. Let’s also look at David, the author of many Psalms. In Psalm 22 he says:

My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? Why are You so far from helping Me, And from the words of My groaning? O My God, I cry in the daytime, but You do not hear; And in the night season, and am not silent. (Psalms 22:1-2 NKJV)

Now, we know Psalm 22 is a Psalm prophesying about Jesus Christ. Still, what situation could David have been in to cause him so much grief? These two people lead us to point #1.

Point #1 - If two giants of the bible suffered and had problems, you are not alone if you have them. This is not a uniquely New or Old Testament situation, everyone suffers through trials sometimes.

The first thing to note is, you are not alone. Everyone suffers through problems and trials at some point or another. Another common problem is we view trials as God’s punishment of us. This was essentially Job’s condition. His friends told him he must have sinned against God for this much disaster to strike him. As we read the book of Job, we find out who was really responsible for his disasters (Satan, - read chapter one of Job). But this still doesn’t solve our problem, why do these things happen? The answer lies in the following.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9 NIV)

Which leads us naturally to:

Point #2: The answer to the question of why bad things happen to good people is (drumroll please…) - I have no idea!

OK, before you abandon me totally, allow me to expand on the previous idea. Many times we have a strange idea that we should understand everything around us. As we learn from Quantum Physics, the more we learn, the more we realize the less we know. Imagine, it’s taken scientists thousands of years to catch up to Isaiah! But the point is, some knowledge is simply beyond our understanding. While we can speculate and debate about many things, sometimes the answer is simply “I don’t know”. Sadly, as humans our response so frequently is “That’s not good enough”. However, God says so, so if you have a problem with it, I suggest you take it up with him.

So, now that we have answered the age-old question (and in only about a page - it’s amazing how many “problems” are really no problem when viewed with a biblical mind-set), our new question becomes “What do we do now?” As usual, the Bible shows the answer.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding (Proverbs 3:5 NKJV)

Finally, something we can apply in our life! This is the crux of the issue. As Chuck Missler says (If I quote correctly) “It’s amazing how far the Lord goes to ask the question ’Do you trust me’?” And what is our response? “Lord, I don’t know how this situation could work out, I’m in big trouble here!” If we can’t figure a way out, we don’t see how God can. Perhaps (just perhaps) many of our problems are simply God’s way of getting our attention. This leads to:

Point #3 - When faced with a situation you don’t understand, Rejoice! It is precisely these events that God uses to show his Power.

Perhaps you’ve heard the saying, “God helps those who help themselves”. Actually, God helps those who are incapable of helping themselves. By ourselves, we have no power. But through Him, we can do anything. Consider Daniel in the lions den, and his three friends in the fiery furnace. Moses and the Red Sea. Jesus and Lazarus. In all of these situations, the people involved had no power of their own to solve the situation. But looking to God, and the problem is solved. “Behold, I am the LORD*,** the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me? (Jeremiah 32:27 NKJV)*

And lest you think that God ever forgets about you and your problems, Jesus himself spoke of the Father’s love for us in the Sermon on the Mount:

“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? “Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? (Matthew 6:25-26 NKJV)

Paul also has practical information in the same passage where he was praying for his thorn to be removed, where he records the Lord’s response to his request.

And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10 NKJV)

Let’s review what we have learned.

  • First, trials and suffering are not yours alone. The Bible is full of people being brought through various trials.
  • Second, God says some things are beyond our understanding. The fact we don’t understand something should not bother us.
  • Third, nothing is too difficult for God, and he is completely aware of our problems.
  • Lastly, look at what Paul wrote again. For when I am weak, then I am strong. As long as we trust in the Lord, there is nothing to fear.

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