Bad Things Happen to Good People
by, 02-14-2012 at 11:52 AM (965 Views)
Bad Things Happen to Good People
I’ve often wondered why bad things happen to good people. Not only that, but good things happen for bad people. The Bible talks a lot about this, especially in Hosea and in the Psalms. The Psalmists asks, “why do the wicked prosper?” I’ve been reading in the book of Job lately. If you’ve gone to church for any length of time in your life you’re probably familiar with the story so I won’t go into it here (if you’re not familiar then you can google a summary). The parts that most of us are aware of are the first two chapters where Job loses everything he has and the last chapter where he gains back double what he had, but there are 40+ other chapters squeezed in between. These other chapters detail several discussions that Job and his friends have concerning why these evil things have befallen him. Job’s friends are of the opinion that the bad things that go on in people’s lives are punishments from God for sins they have committed. Job stands by his belief that he is innocent and righteous. His chief complaint isn’t the circumstances surrounding him but the fact that he thinks God has left him or has turned his face from him and he doesn’t understand why. He longs to appear before the Lord to get an explanation. Well, in this case God does show up and speaks. I won’t go into detail about what He says since you can read it for yourself but He is not happy with Job’s friends because of the ideas they put forth. He tells Job to “gird up thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee and answer thou me”. That’s King James for “pull up your pants (or toughen up) because I’m going to ask you some questions that you’re going to have to answer”. God asks Job, “where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Declare if you have knowledge”. He then spends the next five chapters or so listing man other things that we don’t understand but accept as facts of life.
God also asks Job if “you will condemn me in order for you to be righteous?” Now this is something I have to watch out for my own self. I don’t want to complain right here. I have a good life but every aspect of it hasn’t turned out the way that I would have liked or thought that it should (I’m sure we can all say that to some degree or another). If I’m not careful I’ll find myself questioning God or even worse, I’ll think that He must be wrong because I’m right. This is true especially when I look at people around me and what they have to go through. I know of two ladies who have to deal with certain sicknesses for years now (one of them for 9 years, the other for 15+) and I wonder, “Lord when is enough, enough? Why do the have to go through all these setbacks, on right after another?” I also have several friends who have had parent or spouses die much to early and I ask, “why God? This isn’t fair. These are good people who trust in you”. I’m ashamed to even admit this but I would get really angry with God and think that if God is all-powerful and a merciful God then why doesn’t He do something or why does He allow certain things to happen? I knew these thoughts were sinful but I was hurt and how do you make yourself stop feeling a certain way?
I was like Job’s friends who thought that if you lived a good life then everything should work out well for you (by the way, in Job God goes on to say that our knowledge is limited while His is complete). I guess I thought things worked like this: God had a detailed plan that predetermined how my life was going to be and everything that happened in my life (good and bad) was because it was God’s will and part of “the script”. I no longer think that. What changed my mind was the part of the Lord’s Prayer that says “thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven”. Why do we have to pray for God’s will to be done if God’s will is always done? Well, it’s because God’s will isn’t always done here on earth. We have our own free-will that can get in the way sometimes. Here’s an example: say I’m driving my car up the road, let’s say on my way to teach a Sunday School class, and a drunk driver hits me head on and kills me. Was that God’s will? I don’t think so, it was the drunk driver’s decision to drink and drive. The way that I see it, the causes of suffering are: 1) our own free-will, 2) other’s free-will, and 3) the effects of sin. When I say the effects of sin, I don’t necessarily mean that evil or hard-times come upon us because of individual sin. I’m thinking more along the lines of Adam’s disobedience that allowed sin to enter the world. Because of that we don’t live in a perfect world.
A few years ago a very close friend of mine (who was in his 50’s) died of cancer. Shortly after I was sitting beside his brother in church service and told him that I didn’t understand why your brother, my uncle Edsel (who was 58), and my nanna (who was 57) had to die so early. He just looked at me and said “that’s life). When he said that I thought of two verses. The first is where Jesus said, “God causes the sun to rise on the good and the evil and rain to fall on the just and the unjust”. The second, and one I want to talk about, is where Jesus said, “in this world you will have tribulation (or troubles/trials) but be of good cheer (happy) because I have overcome the world”.
The first part of this verse is easy to understand—we will have troubles/tribulations here on earth. I think the second part the verse, while it may be easy to understand, can be difficult to live or accept. Jesus is telling us that even though we will have troubles in this world that we live in we should be happy and not let them get us down and depressed because he has overcome this world. When I first started thinking about the phrase “I have overcome the world” I thought it meant something like “Jesus is strong enough to get you through any problems this life can throw at you.” However, the more I think about it the more I believe he was speaking of the plan of salvation and his redeeming us back to God. Once we accept Christ’s sacrifice for our sins, our fate or happiness is not bound to this world—we have eternity in Heaven to look forward to. I find that I need to be less mindful of the things that happen here and have to constantly refocus my sight on my heavenly reward. All of us are only here for a short time on this earth.
In the end it isn’t going to really matter if we lived to be 40, 50, 70, or 100; if we were happy in our marriages/relationships; if we were healthy or sick, etc. All that will last is if we accepted Christ’s sacrifice for our sin and then what did we do to show love for and how did we help our fellow man. I’m not trying to trivialize our problems or our hurts, but Jesus said that we could be cheerful by focusing on what we have waiting for us.
“These all (the old testament believers) died in faith, not having received the promise, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.”
Consider these two lives:
1) lives 100 years in the most misery you can imagine but accepted Christ and helped others as much as they could (or loved the Lord with all their hearts, mind, and soul and loved their neighbors as themselves) and at the end of their life was rewarded with eternity in Heaven to spend with their friends and family, God and savior,
2) lives 100 years of the most comfortable, happy life you can imagine but dies lost and is cast into hell for eternity. Forever separated from God and their loved ones.
If Heaven were as real to us as it should be then things of this life wouldn’t hurt us as much as they do.
The last verse in 1 Cor. 13 says "there abides faith, hope, and charity (or love), and the greatest of these is charity". Paul also says "love is the fulfilling of the law", "all the law can be summed up as love thy neighbor as thyself, against such there is no law", and John says "he who says he loves God and hates his brother is a liar and the truth is not in him".
So, we know that love is the greatest gift we as Christians can hope to aspire to. Maybe (and I really don't like to use this phrase but can't think of anything better) God "allows" bad things to happen to others so we have an... opportunity to show love to them. When I say "love" I don't mean an emotion I mean compassion and action. When we receive salvation we should be so overwhelmed by God's love that we want to repay Him. The Bible teaches that we can't do good things directly for God but the good that we do for others is the same as doing them for God. When we give someone money or food who needs it then we are laying up eternal treasures for ourselves in Heaven. The hard part is when the bad things happen to us. It's then that we need to let others show us love and let them have their opportunity to serve God by serving us. Like I said, this gets off my original thought of keeping your eyes on the eternal when things hit rock bottom but it may go to show that God may allow certain circumstances to come upon us so that others may show His love in helping us. Of course, we MUST always have our own eyes open to help meet the needs of others. James says something like "if you see someone who needs food or clothes and you say to him, 'be filled and go in peace' but you don't give him the things he needs, then what good did you do?".
Before you can show someone love (an action) you must first have compassion for them. Before you can have compassion you must have experienced pain and hurt.