If we are honest, when bad things happen to good people, be it personal situations or natural disasters, we can nearly always trace a path back to the originating cause and see it is never God’s fault. I said nearly always. For the sake of our study, let’s say 90% to 95% of bad things that happen to good people have answers. What about the other 5% to 10%?
By Pastor Delbert Young
Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?
Why Do Bad Things Happen?
Scriptures: 1 Peter 3:15, Luke 16:22-23, Mark 9:48, Ephesians 4:8-9, Ezekiel 33:11, Psalms 116:15, 2 Peter 3:9, Genesis 1:31, Matthew 25:41, Hebrews 12:1, Hebrews 12:23, James 1:17
We are in a series called TOUGH QUESTIONS. Let’s talk about a TOUGH QUESTION today:WHY DO BAD THINGS HAPPEN TO GOOD PEOPLE? Have you ever asked or had someone ask you that question? The question itself separates all people into two categories – bad people and goodpeople. With the question, we are saying that good people, i.e. we Christians, should not experience bad times. Only bad people, i.e. sinners, should. So, let’s first define Biblically what/who is “good.”One day a young rich man ran up to Jesus saying to him, “Good teacher…” Here is how Jesus immediately and seemingly out of context replied to him.
Mark 10:18 Why do you call me good? Jesus answered. NO ONE IS GOOD – except God alone.
That might be offensive to you because you think you are a good person. Jesus was simply saying that we all have areas that are not so good – bad. Let me put it this way. If God were to do away with all that is “bad” at 12 p.m. today, how many of us would be here at 12:01? We all have some badareas.
I know that Jesus said that no one is good, but for the sake of our lesson, let’s use good and bad to help us answer this tough question. We expect God to intervene for us because we consider ourselves“good,” but not intervene for others because they are bad. For example, I remember years ago at a beauty pageant in which my daughter, Bonnie, about 10 years of age at the time, was a contestant. There was a mom and grandmother of another contestant holding hands and agreeing in prayer that their child would win. I thought, “What about my child?” By the way, my daughter won, but not because she was “gooder” than their child. It was because she was/is the most beautiful girl in the world (I am kidding… sort of). We know the assumption that God “protects” the good from bad things is not accurate and will cause people to question their faith if they live there. We have all heard horror stories like when a drunk driver crashes into a car of good people. The good people die and the bad drunk walks away. The doctrine that “God protects good people from bad things happening” is not a sound doctrine.
Another way we think, is that God punishes people through bad things. Bad religion teaches us to think this way. If this were true, then it seems unfair of God to allow those bad things to happen to good people. Actually, if we think rationally about it, we can usually trace why MOST bad thingshappen.
My brother-in-law Jimmy was what most of us would reference as a good man. Jimmy was a good husband and loved his children. Doctors diagnosed Jimmy with lung cancer and cancer began to rapidly take Jimmy’s life. One day he asked my wife, Judy, “Why did God let this happen to me?” Judy shot straight not allowing Jimmy to blame God, or anything else, for what was Jimmy’s fault. Judy said, “Jimmy, you smoked cigarettes since you were thirteen years old.” The last time I remember seeing Jimmy was well into what little time he had remaining. I distinctly remember sitting with him in his den. Jimmy was dying of cancer, but still smoking cigarettes.
My point is this, if we are honest, MOST bad things that happen to good people are traceable. God was not judging Jimmy with cancer. Jimmy smoked cigarettes for 50 years. God is not angry and judging you with financial difficulties. You spent too much money and got yourself in debt. God is not judging your marriage. You may have married an idiot. You knew better. Or, maybe you may need to fix something in your marriage.
Let’s look at something else. There is extreme poverty, disease, and starvation in many third-world countries. Is God judging those people and countries? If so, then what about the good people there who are starving? Is their a traceable reason for those bad things to happen? Upon investigation, we normally find corrupt dictators who, in their self-interest, take money for their own wealth and power. The dictators are not starving. They live in palaces. Their corruption causes poverty among the people, which gives rise to bad things such as disease and starvation. I actually witnessed this in Haiti years ago. It was not God judging those people with bad things. It was a greedy dictatorship.
Another traceable reason that bad things happen to good people is that God created us with deep urges and instincts. When people allow those urges to go unbridled, perversion with damaging acts happen against society. These acts include homosexuality, rape, child molestation, extreme anger, violence, murder, etc. Is God judging that person and society, or is there a traceable reason.
Mark 7:21 For FROM WITHIN, OUT OF A PERSON’S HEART, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, eagerness for lustful pleasure, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. ALL THESE VILE THINGS COME FROM WITHIN; they are what defile you and make you unacceptable to God.
Jesus said do not blame God when these things happen, or think it happened because someone did not do a religious ceremony. When those BAD THINGS happen, it is not the judgment of God. Thosebad things come from within man’s heart, not from God.
Let’s look at one more traceable reason as to why bad things happen to good people. We understand that geological forces of our planet cause natural disasters. Weak fault lines in the earth’s crust cause earthquakes. Volcanoes come to boiling points and erupt. Atmosphere fronts collide and cause tornadoes and hurricanes.
On December 26, 2004, a 9.3 scale earthquake in the Indian Ocean occurred. It was the most powerful earthquake ever recorded and generated a tsunami causing the death of over 200,000 people. I read an article from the Globe that contained an interview with a young boy from Indonesia who said, “We’re Muslim. We believe God did this because God is testing us. We don’t understand God’s reasons, but we trust in God.”Many people blamed that tsunami on God.
On August 29, 2005 a category 5 hurricane named Katrina came inland, with rain and 160 mph winds, into the Louisiana Gulf Coast area. The city of New Orleans flooded because of a breach in a levy. Because of that hurricane, 1325 people died. People said it was God judging that area. Was he? What about the good people who lived there who love God?
So, where was God in the tsunami or Katrina or any natural disaster? Was God present in the tsunami wave and the winds, rain, and flood of Katrina? Or, could it be that God’s presence was in the millions of hands that reached out helping complete strangers? Was God judging, or was God saving? Was the New Orleans flood because God was judging New Orleans, or because the levy breached?
One more thought that we take from Katrina needs to be added to our traceable reasons why bad things happen to good people. Those 1325 people did not have to die. Meteorologists warned 5 days before Katrina hit that it was a category 5 hurricane and to evacuate. They made the decision to stay, not God. Many, I repeat, many of the bad things that happen to good people trace back to good people making bad decisions. We blame the President, FEMA, God, etc. The true reason is a bad decision.
If we are honest, when bad things happen to good people, be it personal situations or natural disasters, we can NEARLY ALWAYS trace a path back to the originating cause and see that it is never “God’s fault.” I said nearly always. For the sake of our study, let’s say that 90% to 95% of bad things that happen to good people have answers.From where/who does the remaining 5%-10% come when, maybe, it can be traced, but yet we have done everything correctly? We do not see bad thingsas God punishing people. We are not under an evil dictator. We have bridled our urges and instincts and we are not experiencing a tsunami or hurricane. However, we are still experiencing bad things and there is no “traceable” reason. We are blameless. We can certainly look at the classic example of Job for help.
Job 1:1 In the land of Uz there lived a man whose name was Job. THIS MAN WAS BLAMELESS and upright; he feared God and shunned evil.
Job was not to blame for what happened. What happened could not be traced back to a reason. Job did it all correctly – good husband, good father, shunned evil, feared God. Then one day a servant ran to Job and told him enemies attacked and killed many of Job’s workers and took much of Job’s wealth (Job 1:13-15). Verse 16 says,
Job 1:16 While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said…
A fire from nowhere killed more of Job’s workers and took more of his wealth. Verse 17 says,
Job 1:17 While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said…
More enemies had killed more of Job’s workers and taken more of his wealth. Verse 18 says,
Job 1:18 While he was still speaking, yet another messenger came and said…
A tornado killed all of Job’s children. Job was devastated. Here is what Job said.
Job 1:21 And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.
God did not take it away. Read the story. It was Satan under God’s oversight, but have you ever felt like that? Maybe you asked, “What else can possibly go wrong?” We would think that Job had enough bad things happening.
Job 2:7 So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD and afflicted Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the top of his head.
Satan attacked Job physically, in his family, and in his finances. The remainder of the Book of Job is chapter after chapter of Job asking, “WHY?” That is good. We need to ask why. People that knew Job and observed all this happening to him told Job that God was judging him because Job sinned. That was not the case at all. God was not judging Job. GOD WAS USING JOB.
In those 5%-10% times, WE CONFUSE GOD USING PEOPLE, WITH BAD THINGS HAPPENING TO PEOPLE. A good example is a person signing up for the armed forces. They are signing up for use. When we come to Jesus and he becomes Lord, we sign up for him to use us. There will be aspects of our duty we will not like. Nonetheless, it is our duty. If we keep our hearts right and allow God to use us, he will bless us beyond our greatest expectations.
Job 42:10-17 After Job had prayed for his friends, the LORD made him prosperous again and GAVE HIM TWICE AS MUCH AS HE HAD BEFORE… The LORD blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the first. He had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand donkeys. And he also had seven sons and three daughters… After this, Job lived a hundred and forty years; he saw his children and their children to the fourth generation. And so he died, old and full of years.
Why did bad things happen to a good (even blameless) person like Job? God was USING Job, NOT JUDGING JOB. Because of Job, billions of people gain courage to go through what they are going through. Though attacked by Satan, though no fault of their own, they know that God is overseeing their entire struggle and they will come out good.
Romans 8:28 And we know that ALL THINGS work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called ACCORDING TO HIS PURPOSE.
The promise is that for those that love God through ALL the bad things – both traceable and those that are not– he will make ALL bad things work out good.
God has a purpose to fulfill. Joseph is a great example. He had absolutely no control over somebad things that happened in his life. He was blameless, yet was sold into slavery by his brothers, lied about by Potipars wife, and sent to prison for several years. God worked HIS PURPOSE through all those bad things. When it was done, God mightily blessed Joseph, making all his dreams come true. But, how many of us want to be USED as was Joseph? That is a TOUGH QUESTION.
Sometimes when a bad thing is happening, we know, believe and even accept that God is overseeing and taking us through it. Yet, still we struggle with it and ask, “Why?” Did you know that going through a bad time was the only time that Jesus questioned Father God?
Mark 15:34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” – which means, “MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?”
When going through really bad things, we feel that God has forsaken us. I want to assure you that he has not. He is right there and if you allow him to work, in 3 days (meaning a short time), God will raise you up and exalt you to your place of blessing. But, how many of us want to be USED on a cross as was Jesus?
WHY DO BAD THINGS HAPPEN TO GOOD PEOPLE? Sometimes it is because God is USING us, NOT JUDGING US, to do something SPECTACULAR.
So, WHY DO BAD THINGS HAPPEN TO GOOD PEOPLE? I believe that at least 90%-95% of the bad things people experience are traceable. But, when there is not a traceable reason and people are blameless, realize that God is USING them. They can not stop it, but they can go through it and after it is over, God will bless them beyond their greatest dreams and expectations.
We will end with one last reason as to “WHY BAD THINGS HAPPEN TO GOOD PEOPLE?” It is to save them. Noah went through a bad thing – a horrible flood. However, the Bible says that Noah was blameless (Gen 6:9). Yet, he lost everything except his family. He lost his home and all possessions. He had to relocate and rebuild his entire life from nothing. Yet, Noah’s salvation and his family’s salvation came because of that bad thing.
I told you about my brother-in-law Jimmy who died from lung cancer. Before he died, we got to pray with Jimmy and lead him to salvation. God allowed me to serve communion to Jimmy and water baptize Jimmy. Jimmy may have gone to hell had it not been for that bad time – that flood. See, I know that Jimmy is not in the torment of hell today and it is probably because of the bad thing that happened to a good person. ALL THINGS WORK TOGETHER FOR GOOD – no matter if they are traceable or if a person is blameless.
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