Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?
Just watching the nightly news is enough to make you arrive at this question. School shootings, natural disasters and national disputes are tough to face with grounded faith. But God does not leave us alone in our pain.
When God created the world, it was perfect. But, when man disobeyed God, sin entered into the world and changed everything. Human beings and their relationship with God, each other, and creation were all damaged. And, when sin entered the world, so did death (Rom 5:12). We’ve been living with the consequences of man’s disobedience ever since. Even Jesus said that we would face trouble in this world but that we can look to him for our hope (John 16:33).
When tragedy strikes, it’s easy to believe these unfortunate events define God’s character. We think, “If God did this happen, He must not be good” or “If God allowed this, He must be incapable to help”. But God’s character is not defined by any misfortune you face in this fallen world.
The crucifixion of Jesus was the only event in human history where something bad happened to a completely good, undeserving person. We see God’s character revealed most clearly, not through our circumstances but in the cross. God proves He is not seeking our harm or unable to help us. Jesus’ crucifixion shows that God loves you so much that he sent his Son to die for you even while you were a sinner (Rom. 5:8). He is loving and He is able.
If It's Not Good, God's Not Done
The cross also shows us that we serve such a great God that he can use bad things for greater purpose. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” There is no event that God is not in control of and will not use for good. C.S. Lewis wrote in The Problem of Pain, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” God can use our pain to reveal himself to us, especially new aspects of His character that we didn’t or couldn’t understand before. Without need, we wouldn’t understand God’s provision. Without hurt, we wouldn’t understand God’s healing.
We find this truth to be evident in the story of Job. God does not directly answer Job’s persistent questioning but reveals Himself to Job, showing His wisdom and His power throughout all creation. This, not an adequate explanation, gives Job rightful perspective in his suffering. (Job 38-42:6)
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