Jesus said Bad Things Happen to Good People. He said I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth YOU will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world. [NLT] Jesus said STRAIGHT UP we will have bad times. His promise is we can have peace through it, not that we won’t have it.
TOUGH QUESTIONS STRAIGHT UP
By Pastor Delbert Young
WHY Do Bad Things Happen To Good People?
Why Do Bad Things Happen To Good People?
Scriptures: Mark 10:18, John 16:33, Galatians 6:7-8, Mark 7:21, Job 1:1, 16, 17, 18, 21, Job 2:7, Job 42:10-17, Romans 8:28, Mark 15:34
We are in a series called STRAIGHT UP. Let’s deal STRAIGHT UP with a TOUGH QUESTION today:WHY DO BAD THINGS HAPPEN TO GOOD PEOPLE? Have you ever asked or had someone ask you that question?
Let’s say it STRAIGHT UP: If God is good all the time then why do bad things ever happen? If God loves people then why does God allow bad things to happen to people? If God is all powerful and he loves people then why doesn’t he stop bad things from happening to them?
First, we need to think about this. Without realizing it, the question shows prejudice. It separates people into two categories – bad people and good people. With the question, we are saying that good people, meaning usually us Christians, or a loved one, should not experience bad times. Only bad people, i.e. bad sinners, should. So, let’s first define Biblically 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.
So, if Jesus is not to be called “good” then who is? Jesus was simply instructing us not to categorize people as good or bad. Let’s put it this way. If God were to do away with anyone who ever did something “bad” at 12 p.m. today, how many of us would be here at 12:01? We all have some bad areas. So, we must get away from the thought of good and bad people. God created us all.
I remember years ago at a beauty pageant in which our daughter, Bonnie, about 8 years of age at the time, was a contestant. There was a mom and grandmother of another contestant holding hands agreeing in prayer that their child would win. I thought, “What about my child?” By the way, our daughter won, but not because she was “gooder” than their child. It was because she was/is the most beautiful girl in the world.
The assumption that God protects, by intervention, the good people from bad things is not accurate and will cause people to question their faith if they live under that assumption. We have all heard horrible stories of when a drunk driver crashed into a car of good people. The good people died and the bad drunk walked away, or about the baby who died, or the child smitten with a disease and died, or the precious saint mom who died. The teaching and thinking that “God protects good people from bad things happening” is not a sound or an accurate doctrine and is bad religion. The Apostle Paul suffered many bad things as did the Apostle Peter and even Jesus. In fact, the opposite is truth.
John 16:33 I have told you all this so that you may have PEACE IN ME. Here on earth YOU WILL HAVE MANY TRIALS AND SORROWS. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” [NLT]
Jesus said STRAIGHT UP we will have bad times. His promise is we can have peace through it, not that we won’t have it.
Another assumption is God punishes people by means of bad things happening to them. Bad religion teaches us to think this way. That’s how Pharisees teach people to think. If true, it seems unfair of God to allow those bad things to happen to good people, but it never says God is fair. God’s just and God’s righteous.
Actually, if we think rationally about it, we can usually trace why MOST bad things happen. My brother-in-law, Jimmy, was what most of us would reference as a good man. Jimmy was a good faithful husband who loved his children and grandchildren. 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 was STRAIGHT UP and didn’t allow Jimmy to blame God for what was Jimmy’s fault. Judy said, “Jimmy, you’ve smoked cigarettes since you were thirteen years old.” The last time I remember seeing Jimmy was well into what little time he had remaining. Jimmy was dying of cancer, but dragging a cigarette. Was Jimmy saved? Yes, I prayed with him. I baptized Jimmy, but the bad thing happening was not God punishing Jimmy. God warns us…
Galatians 6:7-8 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, FROM THAT NATURE WILL REAP DESTRUCTION; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.
My point is this if we are honest; MOST bad things that happen to good people are traceable. It’s from sowing to the sinful nature. 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. Now you can’t even give to the kingdom. God is not judging your marriage. You may have married an idiot. You knew better. God tried to tell you through people. Or, maybe you may need to fix something in your marriage, but you’re too stubborn. Bad things are not happening because God picked you out to punish. Trace it back and fix it. It will stop happening.
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? Is there a traceable reason for those bad things happening? Upon investigation, we always 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 is causing the poverty among the people, which gives rise to bad things such as disease and starvation. I actually witnessed this in Haiti. It’s not God judging those people with bad things. It’s a greedy evil 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. Jesus said,
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…
Our house was robbed twice and both times we were at church when it happened. Was God judging me? No. Jesus said those bad things come from within, out of some person’s heart, and inflicted upon others in society. The drunk who crashed into the car of good people had a problem within his/her heart. It wasn’t God’s judgment.
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.”Was the tsunami God’s fault, or did a large earthquake cause it?
On August 29, 2005 a category 5 hurricane named Katrina came inland, with flooding rain and 160 mph winds, at the Louisiana Gulf Coast area. The city of New Orleans flooded because of a breach in a levy. Because of that breach, not hurricane, 1,325 people died. Some people said it was God judging that area. Was he? What about the good people who lived there who love God? Was it God or a breach in the levy?
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 in another country? WAS GOD JUDGING, OR WAS GOD SAVING?
One more thought that we take from Katrina needs to be added to our traceable reasons why bad things happen to good people. Those 1,325 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. God didn’t surprise attack them. Many, I repeat, many of the bad things that happen to good people trace back toGOOD PEOPLE MAKING BAD DECISIONS. People blamed the President, FEMA, God, etc. The true reason was a bad decision. The real question is, “Why live close to a volcano where an eruption will one day happen?” “Why live on a fault line where there will be earthquakes one day?” “Why remain in New Orleans when a category 5 hurricane is coming?” “Is that God or is that stupid?” Maybe it is true – you can’t fix stupid.
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? We have done everything correctly. There is no “traceable” reason. We are blameless as far as we know. The scriptures are full of these examples. 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. What happened could not be traced back to a logical 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. Have you ever felt like that? You are already having one bad experience when another one hits. Verse 17 says,
Job 1:17While 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 1:18While 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 …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.
WOW! Actually, it wasn’t God who took away. Read the story. It was Satan, but have you ever felt like that? Maybe you asked, “What else can possibly go wrong?” Don’t ask that because there can be more.
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. Satan attacked Job’s family, and Job’s finances. The remainder of the Book of Job is chapter after chapter of Job asking, “WHY?” People who observed all this happening to Job told him that God was judging him and Job must have sinned. That was not the case at all. God was not judging Job. GOD WAS CHANGING JOB AND USING JOB.
In those 5%-10% times, WE CONF– USE GOD CHANGING PEOPLE AND USING PEOPLE, WITH BAD THINGS HAPPENING TO PEOPLE. An example is a person signing up for the armed forces. They are signing up to be changed and used. When we come to Jesus and he becomes Lord, like it or not we sign up for him to change us and use us. If we keep our hearts right and allow God to change and 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 do bad things happen to a good (even blameless) person like Job? God was CHANGING AND USING Job, NOT JUDGING JOB. Because of Job, billions of people gain courage to go through what they are going through. Attacked by Satan, though no fault of their own, they know that God is overseeing their entire struggle and they will come out good if they will not lose faith.
Romans 8:28 And we know that ALL THINGS work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the calledACCORDING 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.
Sometimes when a bad thing is happening even the best of God lovers feel forsaken by God. 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?”
I want to assure you that he has not forsaken us. God was using Jesus and changing Jesus to be glorified. God was 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.
We will end with one last reason as to “WHY BAD THINGS HAPPEN TO GOOD PEOPLE?” It is to save them. Blameless Noah (Gen 6:9) went through a bad thing – a horrible flood. All his friends and relatives, except his immediate family died. Noah lost his life’s savings, his house, and his camel – everything except his family. 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. Jimmy did not come to the Lord until during his bad time. I 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 – his flood. See, I know Jimmy is not in the torment of hell today and it could be because of the bad thing that happened to a good person. ALL THINGS WORK TOGETHER FOR GOOD.
So, WHY DO BAD THINGS HAPPEN TO GOOD PEOPLE? We can’t call some people good and some bad. All people have done something bad. 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 CHANGING, USING, OR SAVING them. The bad time can not be stopped. Job tried and Jesus asked it happen some other way, but people can go through it with peace and after it is over, God will bless them beyond their greatest dreams and expectations.
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