Why Do Bad Things Happen To Good People?

So after dealing with the questions “Why do good things happen to bad people?” and “Why can’t this bad thing happen to someone else?” we’re going to talk about the final part of the series….”Why do bad things happen to good people?” 

So why do bad things happen to good people?  There are four things I think we need to consider when we try to answer a question like this.  (I’m sure that are more than four and this isn’t intended to be an all-inclusive list….But if I typed out everything there was to say about the question it’d take me years to write and there’d probably only be two people on earth who would read it to the end.)

1-This world was never intended to be perfect.

Hebrews 10:32-38  But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one. Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. For, “Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay; but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.”

God has promised that we will receive a “great reward” if we have confidence in Him and the “better possession” he has promised us.  If we received our better possession now, that perfect place God has prepared for us, where would be the opportunity for us to have faith in Him?  Our faith wouldn’t be in God’s promises for the future, but in the good things that we enjoy now.

Matthew 8:20  And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”

While living on Earth, even Jesus had a difficult life.  It wasn’t easy for the Son of God to endure the struggles of this life, so why should we believe that this life would be so much easier for us?

Hebrews 11:8-10  By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.

John 14:1-4  “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.”  

These two passages (Hebrews 11 and John 14) are two of my favorites in all of the Bible.  They give us an example of a man who realized that this life was temporary and spent his life looking forward to a better city, a city built by God.  And in John14 Jesus tells his disciples that he was going to prepare that better city for them, and would come back for them, and that they would know how to get to the city.

To understand why bad things happen to good people, we have to first understand that this life was never meant to be void of bad things.

2-We need to recognize that we don’t have the authority to ask that question.

Jeremiah 18:1-10  The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: “Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will let you hear my words.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel. And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do.  Then the word of the Lord came to me: “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter has done? declares the Lord. Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel. If at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom, that I will pluck up and break down and destroy it, and if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I intended to do to it. And if at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom that I will build and plant it, and if it does evil in my sight, not listening to my voice, then I will relent of the good that I had intended to do to it.”

Before Jeremiah could understand what God was going to tell him, God first sent him to the potter’s house.  And before God spoke to Jeremiah, He let Jeremiah watch the potter form the clay, then reform it after it spoiled.

We apply the same principle to our children, don’t we?  If I ask my boys to bring me a tool from the garage, do I first have to explain to them the ultimate plan for the tool and my reason for making them work to bring me the tool and how the tool will be used in the grand scheme of their lives?  Of course not.  They just have to understand that I’m their father and have told them to do something, and understand their role in relationship to me.  But every time God places a challenge in our lives or a requirement upon us, we stomp our feet like spoiled children and demand to know WHY.

Before we can understand why bad things happen to good people, we need to learn the same lesson that Jeremiah learned at the potter’s house.

3-We’re really not in a position to determine what is bad and what is good, due to our limited understanding of this life.

Genesis 50:18-21  His brothers also came and fell down before him and said, “ Behold, we are your servants.” 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.

Isaiah 55:8-9  For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

In the story of Joseph, we see that God’s plan for our lives won’t always make sense to us.  We sometimes need to just accept that God knows better than us and trust Him with our lives.  And realize that that even if His plan for our lives seems pretty rough right now, He has a better life planned for us later.

Not everything in life will make sense to us, but having faith in God means that we’ll put our faith in His plan rather than our own.

4-Often, what we consider to be “bad things happening to good people” is just life.

A speeding car hydroplanes and strikes a tree, because of the way our physical world is built and someone dies.  But it’s not because something BAD happened to them, it’s because something natural happened to them.  The physics of wet roads and speeding cars can, and does, cause people to die.

When we say that something “bad” has happened, it conjures up the idea that something unnatural has happened.  When really, just the opposite is true…what we blame God for are just the natural occurrences of life.

If God stopped every natural, but dangerous, thing from happening to us we wouldn’t live in a natural world at all.  (We’d be living in the better city that Abraham was looking for…..That we should be looking for.)


3 Comments on “Why Do Bad Things Happen To Good People?

    • Thanks Scott. Unfortunately there’s not a simple answer to the “why”, but I think that’s part of our faith….Trusting instead of Knowing.

  1. One of our mutual friends introduced me to your blog. The three most recent entries in the “Challenges to Our Faith” series have given me a lot to think about. My mindset right now is in line with the last point you mentioned in this article. Remembering the other points in this and the two preceding articles may help when I feel anger about the disease that is slowly killing one of my loved ones.