It’s a question as old as time.
“WHY DO BAD THINGS HAPPEN TO GOOD PEOPLE?”
For as long as humanity has record their own history, people have been writing stories and commentaries about this question. Look at the book of Job. A book that is dated to be older than the first five books of the Bible is all about answering the question,”Why do bad things happen to good people?”
Still, we keep asking. We keep looking for a satisfying answer.
I am not against questions. I am not against searching for answers that satisfy. But this question is fundamentally flawed. This is not a question that Christians should be asking.
That might seem like an unreasonable reaction to a universal problem. Bad things happen to people all the time. Why would I have such a negative reaction to Christians asking it?
I react this way because I believe that Christians know something the rest of the world refuses to understand. Or they should. At least, they claim to know it, but it may not be taking root in their hearts.
Start with the premise. Bad things happen. We all know this is true. This happens every day. But the question is why it happens to good people.
Who are the good people?
There seems to be this unspoken understanding in Christianity that we are the ‘good people’ that are suffering unjustly. ‘We’ are having bad things happen to us.
What is striking about this idea is that we think we are now above bad things happening. We seem to think that since we ‘have Jesus’, we should be immune to bad things happening. That we have somehow earned a pass to an easier life. Because we are ‘good’ now in the eyes of God.
But Christians should know what Paul said,
As it is written:
“There is no one righteous, not even one;
there is no one who understands;
there is no one who seeks God.
All have turned away,
they have together become worthless;
there is no one who does good,
not even one.” – Romans 3:10-12
We aren’t good. We can’t claim goodness in any way, shape, or form. We can’t be well enough or do things so well that we can opt out of bad things happening to us.
But we, Christians, tend to think that we are. We think we can get out of bad things because we are Christians. But nowhere in Scripture does such a statement exist. No one says that we are excluded from bad things happening.
So why do we get so upset when bad things happen? Why are we surprised? Bad things happen to everyone. The whole world is fallen, broken, tainted by sin. Bad things happen regularly. Watch the news, they will affirm what I am saying.
I think we are shocked by bad things happening because we fail to understand what faith in Jesus does for us. It saves us from the destruction of sin and death, but not the effect that our sin and death has in the world around us. Bad things are going to keep happening around us, and there is no getting away from it. But there is a way to get through it.
James, the brother of Jesus said this,
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” – James 1:2-3, emphasis added
Whenever means that trials and temptations will happen. Whenever bad things happen you know that your faith is being tested. Whenever bad things happen means that we aren’t immune to bad things.
When Christians start asking “Why do bad things happen?”, it is, though not always, a complaint about life suddenly being unfair to them in their terms. But as Christians we should know better. We should know differently.
So, instead asking “Why do bad things happen to good people?” I believe that we should be asking a better question. Or we should be getting people to adjust their thinking by getting them to answer this question.
WHEN BAD THINGS HAPPEN, WHO DO YOU LOOK TO AS YOUR HELP, YOUR HOPE, YOUR SAVIOUR?
This question doesn’t make the bad things go away. It doesn’t magically solve all their problems. But it does reorient them to a place where they are the broken pot in need of the Potter’s restorative handiwork. Asking this question will move us from a place of complaining to a place ripe for worship of Jesus, our help, our hope, our Saviour.
I believe that by changing the question we will start looking to God in the midst of our problems, rather than blaming Him for our sinful and broken world.