This is a question that the People of God have been asking throughout the ages! It is as if we are looking for that one and only answer that will bring clarity and understanding to the sadness we are experiencing. Many people feel that if they can understand the “Why” question it will bring peace to their hurting heart. But that to is a futile pursuit because peace doesn’t come from understanding a concept but through the love of a particular individual.
However, that’s not to say that gaining Biblical understanding about this topic is useless. It’s not! It just provides little benefit for gaining peace to deal with the pain. And if you are looking for that one, and only one, explanation to why bad things happen to good people you’re going to become frustrated. This question does not have just one answer. The answer is multi-faceted!
The theme of this question is particularly important to those who are intentionally living a missional life and shining the Light of Christ in their part of this dark world! Why? Because in the pursuit of Christ’s mission people will experience bad things, difficult times and seasons of sadness that will need to be dealt with.
Jesus said it best,
"These things I have spoken to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world." John 16:33
In this verse, Jesus was preparing his disciples for that inevitable reality that in these sinful world trials and tribulations can be expected if one is intentionally pursuing God’s mission. Being on mission with Christ isn’t glamorous or a fairy tale story. The pain, the suffering and the horribly bad things that happen to God’s people are real and raw. This missional life isn’t an afternoon on a picnic – it’s a war zone where the forces of evil are being engaged by the People of God.
And because of that, we need understand that bad things do happen to God’s people and we need to prepare ourselves for when that season of life befalls us.
So, in this post I am going to share 4 reasons why bad things happen to God’s people but then I am going to share where one can find the peace and strength they need for going through that painful time!
4 REASONS WHY BAD THINGS HAPPEN TO
REASON #1: Because Of Stupidity
In 2 Kings 6:1-7 we read about a story of a man who had an axe with an iron head. As the man was swinging the axe, the iron head flew off, landed into a deep river and sank to the bottom. The man cried out to the prophet, told him what had happened and then shared that the axe was borrowed from a friend. Luckily, this story had a happy ending through a miracle that the prophet performed by throwing a stick into the water and the iron axe head came floating to the top.
But here’s the point! The man who had borrowed an axe with an iron head had borrowed an extremely expensive piece of farming equipment and maybe because he wasn’t as careful as he needed (not checking to make sure the iron axe head was secure) a potentially very bad thing happened.
Was the man trying to be harmful or do something bad? Absolutely not! It was an accident! Here’s the point: Bad things sometimes happen simply because it was an accident. No one was trying to hurt you. But for whatever reason it happened.
How many times have we heard of a car full of teenagers driving down the road and enjoying life get into an accident where people are severely injured or killed? It happened not because someone was trying to do a bad thing but because of a lack of judgment and too much playing around in the car and the driver didn’t give their full attention to the road. As a result, the people’s lives were forever altered.
Were they trying to hurt people? No! It was negligence – it was stupidity!
REASON #2: Because Of Sin
The reality is that some bad things that have happened to us are a direct result of sinful living. Not all - but some! In the Book of Genesis we are taught that death enter into the world because of rebelling against God. God told Adam that on the day he ate of the forbidden tree he would die.
Sometimes it’s our own sin that causes us to have problems. Because we decided to use drugs, we end up dealing with a lifetime of physical problems. Because we’ve mistreated our wives, we end up divorced and all alone at the end of life. Because we chose a life of crime, we end up in prison. And this list could go on and on.
Other times it’s not our sin that causes us to suffer but the sin of another person. Many times innocent people experience bad things in their life because of someone else’s sin. How many times in recent history have we heard about a lone gunman going onto a school campus and begin shooting. It wasn’t the sin of any of the students that got shot that caused this to happen. It was the sin of one person who decided to do a horrible thing. What sin did the people in the Twin Towers commit that caused that horrific tragedy? It was the sin of those terrorists who decided to take innocent lives. Because of another persons sin many experienced the pain of a loved one who will never come home.
REASON #3: Because The World’s Under A Curse
In Genesis 3:17 we read an interesting explanation about why bad things happen to, not only to God’s people but also to all people.
“To Adam he said, "Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, 'You must not eat from it,' "Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life.”
Did you read that? It said that because of Adam this world we live in is cursed! God placed a curse on this world that we live in and as a result, it doesn’t respond the way it was originally designed. It has flaws and is broken. The result being: floods, tornados, hurricanes, tidal waves, droughts and more.
Any kind of natural disaster you can think of that, kills and ruin the lives of thousands happen because our world is cursed. And Jesus tells us that as this world comes closer and closer to the Last Day, Judgment Day, these natural disasters will increase and intensify. The intensification of these events is part of the birth pains that signal Jesus’ return.
REASON #4: To Manifest The Works Of God
This last reason might actually be the hardest explanation for some people to accept! This reason, though Biblical, goes against many of our comforting thoughts about the nature of God. Let look at John 9:2-12 and see what it says,
“And His disciples asked Him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?’ Jesus answered, ‘It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him. ‘We must work the works of Him who sent Me as long as it is day; night is coming when no one can work. ‘While I am in the world, I am the Light of the world.’ When He had said this, He spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and applied the clay to his eyes, and said to him, ‘Go, wash in the pool of Siloam’ (which is translated, Sent). So, he went away and washed, and came back seeing. Therefore the neighbors, and those who previously saw him as a beggar, were saying, ‘Is not this the one who used to sit and beg?’ Others were saying, ‘This is he,’ still others were saying, ‘No, but he is like him.’ He kept saying, ‘I am the one.’ So they were saying to him, ‘How then were your eyes opened?’ He answered, ‘The man who is called Jesus made clay, and anointed my eyes, and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash’; so I went away and washed, and I received sight.’ They said to him, ‘Where is He?’ He said, ‘I do not know."
Did you catch the reason why this man was born blind? It was done so that the WORKS OF GOD MIGHT BE DISPLAYED IN HIM!
Why does do some bad things sometimes happen to God’s people? Because God wants to use that bad thing to demonstrate His power, glory and might. They happen so that others, seeing God’s mighty works, can learn to put their faith in God. God allows them so that in some way He can push His mission forward and hasten the coming of His Kingdom to earth.
Do you think I just might be wrong? Then ask Paul and Silas if God was willing to allow them to be whipped, beaten and thrown into jail in the city of Philippi so that a jailer and His family could be saved and baptized!
Throughout the Bible, we see story after story where God has allowed His people to suffer and experience tremendous pain so that His will would be done.
But let me end this post by saying that the comfort that we seek doesn’t come from understanding why bad things happen! There is only one place where we can experience the comfort and peace our hearts desire when bad things happen to us! That place is in the presence of THE LORD JESUS CHRIST!
Jesus himself is the only one who can give us what we want. Jesus said,
"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33 (NIV)
See! Jesus said that in him we would find the peace we need! And it also says that we can take heart because He has beaten the world!
OUR PEACE IS NOT FOUND IN THE EXPLANATIONS OF WHY SOMETHING BAD HAPPENS!
OUR PEACE IS FOUND IN CHRIST ALONE!