Bad Things Happen to Good People
Bible Reading: James 1 :2-8
When your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow—James 1:3.
When a tornado tore through Justin’s Midwestern town, it lifted houses off foundations and blew some to bits. Justin felt as if God’s harsh hand had reached down from heaven. He couldn’t see how a loving God could allow earthquakes, hurricanes, and floods to destroy homes and kill thousands of people in a swipe.
The truth is that natural disasters are not the result of an angry God. A transformation occurred on earth after Adam and Eve disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden (see Genesis 3: 11-18). The world is now stained by a physical evil that often puts pain and disaster in the lives of its inhabitants, even those who love God. But people who experience tragedy through natural disaster don’t suffer because they are more wicked than those who escape (see Luke 13:3-5). This physical evil comes into our lives for a bunch of reasons.
- Some evil results from free choices. If you go to the ocean and go for a swim in rip tides, it’s not God’s fault if you’re sucked somewhere deadly.
- Some evil comes from choosing to do nothing. Not pulling over to sleep when you’re too tired to drive, for example, can cause a deadly crash.
- Some evil results from the free choices of others. Child abuse, drive-by shootings, and drunk-driving deaths are a few ways innocent people suffer.
- Some evil is a by-product of good activities. People driving to church sometimes die. Roller coasters sometimes fly off tracks.
- Some evil comes from evil spirits. Job’s sufferings were chalked up to Satan (see Job 1:6-12).
- Some physical evils prompt moral development. Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery, but “God meant it for good” (Genesis 50:20, NASB).
So, why doesn’t your all-powerful God miraculously jam his hand into your world and keep physical evil from happening? God does sometimes intervene. But he couldn’t do that all the time without overriding humans’ free will-which he won’t. Second, if he always prevented evil, you wouldn’t learn anything from adversity because you wouldn’t experience the consequences of bad choices.
God hasn’t promised to shield you from everything evil. But he did say he would be with you through anything and everything (see Matthew 28:20).
REFLECT: Be able to explain it to a friend: How are natural disasters connected to human sin? Are individuals always to blame when bad things happen to them?
PRAY: Pray for clear understanding of this deep thought.
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