Why can’t this bad thing happen to someone else?

In our Sunday morning bible class we’re looking for biblical answers to the question “Why do bad things happen to good people?”.  But as I studied this question it seemed like the answers I found were actually answering three different questions….

  • Why do bad things happen to good people?
  • Why don’t bad things happen to everyone else?
  • Why do good things happen to bad people?

This post is an attempt to answer the second question of this series….Why can’t this bad thing happen to someone else?  To see the first post to answer these questions, click here.

Why can’t this bad thing happen to someone else?

This question seems to be rooted in our desire for fairness.  From a young age we have a desire for “fair”….What parent hasn’t refereed the near constant “it’s not fair” arguments from their kids?

But as adults we should really have a better understanding of fairness.  Do we really want “fair”?  To we really want to stand at judgment and have our fate determined on what is “fair”?  Because if you do, I’d say that you’ve got a fatally flawed understanding of grace-and your need for it.

To combat this desire for fairness and to answer the question “Why can’t this bad thing happen to someone else?” I think we should look it from two different perspectives.

When we ask why bad things can’t happen to someone else, we should look to the story of Joseph.

All too often we sometimes fail to see the big picture of what might be happening in our life.  Joseph was one of those people who, at the end of his life, was able to see the big picture and how everything fit together to save his family.

Joseph’s life was certainly a roller coaster ride.  He was his father’s favorite son and had a coat of many colors.  Then his brothers were going to kill him.  Then they decided to not kill him.  But then he was sold into slavery.  Then he rose to power in Potiphar’s house.  Then he was thrown into prison.  Then he was going to be freed.  Then he was forgotten.  And on and on and on.  At the end of Joseph’s life his brother’s came to him and wanted to know how he would treat them after their father died.

Joseph replied to his brothers in Genesis 50:20-21  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.

Joseph was in the unique position to be able to see how all of the bad things that happened in his life had fit together in God’s plan.

So when we find ourselves asking “Why can’t this bad thing happen to someone else?”, we need to realize that maybe the bad things are happening to us because we’re the only people who are able to play that role in God’s plan.  Maybe God is pushing us in a certain direction that will ultimately be better for us and our family.

But I think that too often we aren’t able to see that big picture simply because we won’t open our eyes to it.  By the time the plan is complete, we’re too full of bitterness and resentment to see anything good in our lives.

Secondly, when we ask “Why can’t this bad thing happen to someone else?”, it’s because we misunderstand our own self-worth.

Isaiah 64:6  We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.

Romans 3:10  …as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one;”

Phillipians 3:8,9  Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith…

When we ask the question “Why can’t these bad things happen to someone else (someone worse than me)?”, we fail to understand that WE ARE the bad people.

It’s easy to see everyone else’s sin as dirty and ugly and shameful….While at the same time viewing our own sin as just simple mistakes, or ignoring our sins altogether.

It’s a pretty petty view to take that after when we were in rebellion against God, He sent His son to die for us and that’s great….But when someone else is in rebellion against God, He can’t bless them with something as minor as what we get upset about (a promotion at work, a new car, an expensive vacation).

The question “Why can’t this bad thing happen to someone else?” is a selfish question to ask, but understanding God and His role in our lives, and our role in His plan, can go a long way toward curing that selfishness.


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