Friday, October 14, 2011

Why Do Bad Things Happen To Good People?

Weither you like it or not (and I’m sure you don’t) bad things happen. That has led many people to ask the question Why do bad things happen to good people? Imagine this scenario: your saintly mother has always been eager to help those in need. She has given countless hours of her time in the church where she is a member. Her kindness is renowned. Then the day come when she calls you on the phone and says, “the doctor says I have cancer.” Why do bad things happen to good people?

I have a friend who emigrated from India. He believes in karma. The concept of karma is that if you do good to others then karma will draw good things to you, and if you do bad to others then karma will draw bad things to you. People who have a belief like that are certainly going to ask, Why do bad things happen to good people? But let’s rephrase the question and ask, Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people? Unlike with karma, which people seem to think is just the way the world operates, this new question recognizes that there is a being behind the events that some people have interpreted as karma. It isn’t karma that brings good things to people, but God. If that is true, then we can also say that it isn’t karma that brings bad things to people. Nothing happens without God’s permission. Nothing bad happens but what God knew it would happen and chose either to bring it on a person or chose to allow it to take place. That tells us who is controlling these things, but it doesn’t answer the question Why do bad things happen to good people?

It Is the Nature of the World

Ever since Adam sinned, the world has been cursed. That curse changed the nature of the world in such a way that bad things happen. If we forget the concept of good and bad people for a moment and just consider the person who is living in this world, that person is going to face problems. Many of the problems of this world have nothing to do with whether a person is good or bad, they just are. If a river floods and takes out a town, it will destroy the houses of both the bad people and the good people.

God has Bigger Plans

But isn’t God in control of the flood? You might ask. Couldn’t he have spared the houses of the good people? Why do bad things happen to good people? Yes, he could have spared the houses of the good people, and sometimes he does. But more often than not, God uses the bad things that come into our lives to prepare us for things that will come later. Most of what we learn comes from those things we experience. Think of the elderly couple who have put away enough money to last them the rest of their lives and to provide their children with an inheritance. If you ask them, you may discover that in their youth they had a time when their expenses exceeded their income and no one would help them. Or consider the child who turns 18 and demonstrates that he is prepared to take on the responsibility of adulthood, rather than staying under his parents roof for another ten years. It is likely that his parents expected him to sort through many of his own problems, rather than stepping in at every turn. In a similar way, God allows bad things to happen to good people because he wants us to grow to maturity.

God Wants Us to Recognize That He is in Control

Why do bad things happen to good people? Because they cause us to recognize our own weakness. Imagine a father is mowing the yard on lawn tractor and he has his son sitting in his lap. His son has his hands on the wheel. “Look at me, Mommy! I’m driving!” It isn’t until the father turns loose of the wheel that the son realizes that he wasn’t doing as much as he thought he was. The same is true for us and our heavenly Father. As long as life is going well, we don’t understand how much God is doing for us and how much he is protecting us from. But when he allows bad things to come into our lives, we begin to see that we need his help.

I think it is interesting that when Jesus allowed Peter to walk on the water, he did it while the storm was still going on. He knew that Peter would see those waves coming and falter. He knew that Peter would cry out for help. On another occasion, Jesus and the disciples set out in a ship and Jesus went to sleep. A storm came up while Jesus was asleep. Have you thought about why Jesus would go to sleep when he knew a storm was coming? He could have kept them from sailing into a storm. Instead, he went to sleep. That forced them to face the storm alone, until they came and got him.

Or why did he allow Lazarus to die? He could have gone sooner. He could have healed Lazarus from where he was, as he did on other occasions. Instead, he waited until Lazarus died. He allowed a family he loved to suffer grief. Why do bad things happen to good people? Jesus allowed this bad thing to happen so that he could show them that he is the resurrection and the life.

What to Do When Bad Things Happen to Good People

Look for the Good When Bad Happens
We don’t like bad things to happen. We question why things are the way they are, but God doesn’t allow bad things in our lives without a purpose. Look for that purpose and it will help you to accept what has come your way.
Show God Your Heart
So often, we feel that we shouldn’t complain about what God is doing in our lives. God knows that some of the things he allows in our lives is painful. There’s no reason to try to hide that from him. Instead, tell him about it. Tell him of your anguish. At the very least, expressing your feelings to God will help to relieve the hurt you feel. But it may do more than that. It could be that God is waiting for you to ask for help before he shows you why you are experiencing what you are. It could also be that God is waiting for you to put your burden on him before he handles it for you.

It is very likely that whatever you are facing will last a while. It may be months or years for you to get through it, but express your pain openly to God and he will be there to see you through it.