Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?


Christians may not be exempt from suffering, but they are equipped for it by the presence of the One who promises to always be with them.

Cindy, a seventeen-year-old Christian, is driving home late Friday evening from her part-time job at a restaurant. She stares transfixed as a car from the other side of the highway crosses the center of the road and heads directly for her. She swerves, but the other car collides with her Chevrolet. Cindy is killed on impact. The driver of the other car was drunk.

A hornet stings two-year-old Faith as she is playing in her backyard. Her face swells immediately. Her mother recognizes the severity of the reaction, but before they arrive at the hospital, Faith dies. Her parents had no idea she was acutely allergic to bee stings.

A baby is born to a lower-caste woman in India. He spends all four months of his life in a cardboard box before he dies of starvation. His mother dies two months later.

Life isn't fair. Babies die. Good people suffer. Christians hurt terribly. And good people who suffer often respond, "Hey! I don't deserve this! It's not fair. Why me?"

People have asked that question for generations, from the ancient patriarch Job, whose story is found in the Bible, to Rabbi Harold Kushner in his book, When Bad Things Happen to Good People.

The question springs from the idea that good people, Christians particularly, are entitled to lives that are free from struggle and sorrow and suffering.

But that's a myth.

God never promised Christians a rose garden. He never said that life would be easy and that only good things would happen to good people. He doesn't guarantee a life of comfort and ease for people who love and serve Him.

Admittedly, that's what people have assumed for millennia. But a careful reading of God's Word shows the fallacy of that statement.

Jesus' disciples asked Him the age-old question about why people suffer. They pointed to a man who had been born blind.

"Rabbi," they asked Him, "who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?"

Jesus responded, "Neither," and healed the man.

That is the case with much of the suffering in the world. Some people suffer because of their sin, like the man who robs a store and is imprisoned for it. Others suffer from the sins of others, like the deformed baby of a cocaine addict. But much of the suffering in the world fits the category of "neither."

When God created the world, He created natural laws such as the law of gravity and laws of motion. We are the beneficiaries of those laws. But we are also occasionally their vic­tims. Sometimes the law of gravity pulls a plane full of people to the ground. Sometimes the laws of motion produce tragic results when automobiles collide. God does not suspend those natural laws for good people.

Life isn't fair. Accidents, diseases, tragedy, death—all these things happen to Christians, too. In fact, one of the most frequent promises Jesus ever made to His disciples was "In this world you will have trouble." But Christians also have the assurance, "But take heart! I have overcome the world" (John 16:33).

Christians are not exempt from suffering; they are, however, equipped for it by the presence of the One who said, "I am with you always, to the very end of the age" (Matthew 28:20).


Increase your power to confront the Rose Garden Myth with this workout:

Read the following Scripture passages. Identify the person or people who suffer. Why did they suffer? Did God exempt them from suffering or sorrow? What (if anything) did He do for them?

Acts 4:1-13, 21
Luke 23:32-43
Corinthians 6:4-10
Corinthians 12:7-10

This is an excerpt from Don’t Check Your Brains at the Door.

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