Why do bad things happen to good people?
This is a perennial philosophical question that requires answers from every person in every generation. It is often answered with hollow rhetoric from isolated and insulated academicians. There is little comfort in religious jargon when one encounters personal loss and grief. Like a toothache, there are few options for true relief. That’s why my friend Mike Calhoun’s book is an honest and helpful resource for following Christ in a fallen world: Where Was God When.
I’m honored to be a part of the “blog tour” related to the theme of this book. Here are a few thoughts of my own about the topic of why bad things happen to good people:
Let’s begin by acknowledging the fact that God rules sovereignly over the universe. It is his creation and there is nothing outside of his purview. As Creator, God is clearly all powerful and thus entirely able to cause or prevent anything He desires.
God has revealed himself as loving in the narrative of Scripture. The Apostle John says it powerfully, “God is love.” The fact that God is sovereign and that he has revealed himself as loving create a perceived dilemma for many people. If God is all-powerful and all-loving, how can he allow evil? This leads us to a very brief analysis of the human condition.
The first two chapters of Genesis provide complementary accounts of the creation of the world. The third chapter shocks us with man’s rebellion against the Creator. Thus, the Garden of Eden spans a mere eighty verses in the Bible. An earthly utopia seems to have been a brief experience. Anyone longing for an existence free from troubles must either seek to go back to the garden or to have God’s Kingdom established on earth. Christ has promised to do the latter.
The three chapters of Genesis reveal that man’s sin has brought about the curse of physical death, spiritual disharmony, relational strife and environmental turmoil. God has promised redemption for the cursed earth that is unraveling to the cadence of God’s providence and for the purpose of his glory. It is in the wait for this redemption that our hearts are tempted to doubt God’s promises.
Humanity seeks to navigate the increasingly chaotic landscape with a broken moral compass. The free decisions of a confused populace coupled with the natural disasters prone to a cursed cosmos make for a dangerous world. The people and the planet are longing for an existence free from perils and filled with pleasure. It is what we were created for. This leads us back to God.
God has created us for himself. In him alone can we find safety and satisfaction. In this world we can know neither fully. We can taste and know that God is good, yet we still live in a fallen world and we long for more of him. When a person places their faith in Christ, God removes their sin guilt. However, he does not remove them from their sin prone flesh or immediately transport them out of a sin saturated society.
They will suffer from both. They will hurt. They will cry. They will long for more. They will long for God’s Kingdom to be established on earth as it is in Heaven. Their longing will one day be realized.
The true danger for the heart of every believer is keep a biblical perspective of God in the midst of suffering. If we are not careful we will begin to think that God operates through a method of punctuated intervention. He chooses to intervene here or there, but he essential functions like the Deistic God of Thomas Jefferson. This is not the God of the Bible.
He is always active. He is always present. He is ever sovereign. He is the Alpha and the Omega. He sees the end from the beginning. In a way too high for us to understand, our temporary sufferings are not worthy to be compared to the glory that will be revealed for those who love Christ. This can be a hard pill to swallow in the midst of suffering, but it is the promise of God’s future plans for believers.
The cursed world will continue to unravel until the time of his promised return. Until that day we can find comfort in knowing Christ and believing he will one day right all wrongs. Bad things happen to all people, believers and unbelievers alike. Disasters result from human inventions and natural calamities. Both result from the fall. Christ alone is the hope for hurting people. While we may observe grief, all who long for his return will be surprised by joy.
Until then we will laugh and weep, but most of all we will long. May your heart be encouraged as you await for the return of the redeemer. Maranatha.
If you enjoyed this post you might like my blog book “Rotten in Denmark“