Sunday, August 23, 2009

Why Do Bad Things Happen To Good People?

This may be the question that I hear most often asked as an objection to the Christian faith, so let's take a look at this and see what we can learn about why bad things happen to good people.

There are actually several ways that we can approach this, but I would like to look at it from two perspectives:

1. How do we determine what is good or bad?
2. Do bad things really happen to good people?

When we look at this issue we must first determine if what we think is a bad actually is bad. Don't misunderstand, something can be tragic and cause us pain, but does that alone make it a bad thing? In Romans chapter 8 we read:
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
Romans 8:28-29
According to these verses, everything that occurs in the life of God's people is there for one reason and one reason only - to conform us to the image of Christ. If God has determined that everything we experience in this life will work for our good do we really have the right to say whether it is good or bad?

In the Old Testament when we read the story of Joseph we see this principle in action. In Joseph's teenage years he was sold into slavery by his own brothers, and then later he was falsely accused of trying to rape his master's wife and was thrown into prison. While he was in prison for a crime that he didn't commit he helped someone who promised in return to help him but didn't, and Joseph remained in prison.

Later on in Joseph's life we see that everything that happened to him was actually orchestrated by God to bring about the deliverance of His people. So I ask you the question, was what happened to Joseph good or bad? Before you answer that question look at these verses from Genesis chapter 50:
But Joseph said to them, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.” Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.
Genesis 50:19-21
As you can see here, all of the evil that was done against Joseph was all part of God's plan and what seemed like bad things was actually good because God was in it. So to the person who asks why bad things happen to good people I will ask in return, who says they were bad things?

Secondly, in order to answer the question of why do bad things happen to good people we must first answer the question, do bad things really happen to good people?

Romans tells us that no one is good - not even one. Look at these verses from Romans chapter 3:
as it is written:

“None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.
“Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.
“The venom of asps is under their lips.
“Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.
“Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known.
“There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
Romans 3:10-18
This is not the picture of a "good" person, and yet this is how the Bible describes all of us. And then we arrogantly question the goodness of God when things happen that we perceive as being bad, and then we ask why do bad things happen to good people. As we saw above in the first point, God is sovereign over all of the events of our lives and He promises that every one of them is being used by Him to mold us into the image of Christ. And in the letter of James we read:
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
James 1:17
Did you catch that, Every good gift is from God. And since we do not have the ability to discern what is good or what is bad we must put our trust in our good God and the promises that He has given us.

So the next time someone asks you why bad things happen to good people, point them to the Scriptures and ask them in return, Why do good things happen to anybody?

There can only be one answer: we have a great and awesome God who is working everything out for our ultimate good - our conformity to the image of Christ - and for His glory.
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Anonymous said...

The simple answer is that Adam sinned. By sinning Adam sold mankind into captivity and slavery. So all the bad that happens in this system is because of Adam not God. God gave Adam opportunity and choice to live for honor and glory. But he chose sin and death. He put the love of himself before the love of God. Now God over the centuries has purpose a way to fulfill his words in the garden. But he is doing it in a righteous way. That way is Christ Jesus.

caleb said...

I love your blog!