Why do bad things happen to good people?
The age old question that just won’t go away. As long as there are tragedies, calamities, disasters, and broken hearts, there will be people asking. Many Christian scholars, pastors, and teachers have answered with Scripture and profound philosophical responses.
But before we answer, we need to realize that the question is flawed. Usually when somebody asks this, they have somebody in mind. One who loved their family and friends, was a good citizen, and attempted to help others. But how do we truly know that somebody is good?
A young man approached Jesus and called to him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
Jesus doesn’t begin by answering the question but addressing the term ‘good.’
And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.”
Remember, when God created man, he formed him from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. Up to that point, all that he had created was good. But after man entered the scene, God declared it all to be very good.
God intended us to be blameless, enjoying an intimate relationship with him. But man thought he knew best and disobeyed God’s one command. That one decision corrupted not only mankind, but the world around him. Harmony became violence. War replaced peace. God no longer walked and talked with his beloved creation. Their sin separated them from him.
According to God’s Word, we are not good. There is no good in us. What used to be blameless is now evil. And the whole world groans under the consequences of our selfishness.
And yet, when a person believes in Jesus, his death, and resurrection, God Himself recreates him. We are changed, made anew. God indwells us and works through us. We still have our flesh which is prone to sin, but we have the ability to do good because the One who is good is working in us.
Still, troubles come to those who love God. Recently my wife and I lost our baby. She wasn’t too far along, not even showing yet. But it still hurt. If my hope wasn’t secure in Christ, I could easily shake my fist at the sky and ask, “Why?”
But I’m reminded of all the times that I betrayed my God. The times I broke his heart and chose my will over his. And I realize that I deserve much worse than anything happening to me. Death is my fault. Pain and suffering are a result of my sin. Our sin.
Trials happen no matter what. But God chooses to not remain silent during those times. He lavishes grace upon us and gives us the promise that he will work it out for good if we trust him. He overcame the world so we can as well through him. And I’ve come to the conclusion that “Why does bad things happen to good people?” is an inapplicable question.
The better question is “Why does God choose to do good things for bad people?”
And when I ask myself that question the only response is to bow my head…