Tough Questions Series Part 3 – Why Do Bad Things Happen To Good People?
Typically what happens when bad things occur in our lives is we feel God is punishing us. We also may be tempted to think when bad things happen to other people that they deserved it (i.e. – karma) or that God was in a bad mood that day.
I remember a Seinfeld episode where Jerry & George got their big break with NBC and George says something along the lines of, wow I can’t believe this happened and God didn’t kill me. I know he was joking, but it just shows how we are tempted to think sometimes.
Pieter Swart gave a good explanation of what I’m describing when he spoke at Gospel Revolution Church earlier this year. First he defined the word condemnation. He said the first part of the word con means to be deceived and demnation means punishment. If you put the two together it means to be deceived into punishment. This is exactly what happened in the Garden after Adam & Eve sinned. God was still pursuing them and loving them as showed by Him clothing them, but they were hiding from God because they thought He would punish them.
Pieter also gave a good list of things that happen in our lives and the false beliefs that result from them:
-I turned my back on God – I deserve to have Him turn His back on me
-I betrayed my friend – I deserve to be friendless
-I mistreated my body – I deserve to be sick
-I mishandled my money – I deserve to be poor
-I was promiscuous in the past – I deserve to be barren
-I treated my kids wrong – I deserve to not have a relationship with them
-I committed adultery – I deserve to lose my marriage
See man thinks that we always have to do all these things in order for God to give us things. Not true. He just keeps giving and giving and giving. As the Bible says, where sin abounds, grace abounds much more.
So I’ll give my quick answer to this question and then explain it in the text to follow. First of all, the question really should be why do bad things happen at all? The Bible says God is no respecter of persons, meaning He doesn’t see some as good and some as bad. He sees us all the same. So it’s not like God is favoring some and not others.
Second of all, as you might imagine, you know I’m going to be defending God on this one. Sometimes I feel like a defense lawyer. Anyways, you know we are always looking for someone to blame and that someone usually ends up being God. We start asking why did He let this happen? Doesn’t He care about us? What did I do to deserve this? Etc. The way people make God out to be the bad guy leaves no need for the devil. It’s like we’ve made God the most valuable player on the devil’s team. The devil doesn’t play on God’s team either, he is not God’s messenger boy. John 10:10 makes it pretty clear and simple: The thief (devil) comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I (Jesus) have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. 1 John 3:8 says the reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. Hosea 4:6 says my people perish because of a lack of knowledge. Putting these scriptures together we can see that a lack of knowledge about the devil and his intentions leads to death and destruction (bad things).
Now if you know it’s the enemy who is causing these bad things to happen, the next question you may have is why does God even allow there to be an enemy? Well, God didn’t create Satan to be our enemy. Satan was originally an angel. I spoke about this last week but as a reminder, when God created man Satan had envy in his heart towards the position man was given. So God didn’t create an enemy for us, but he does give us free will, which is required in order for there to be real love and not robotic programmed love. In us having that free will, some will chose to reject God thus opening the door for these bad things.
Love Involves A Choice
In order to give us the ability to love, God had to give us free will to decide whether to love or not to love. Why? Because love always involves a choice. Obviously, if you demand love from somebody, it’s no longer real love.
When I was little, I remember seeing dolls with a string in the back. When you pulled the string the doll would say, “I love you”. Did that doll really love you? Of course not. It was programmed to say those words. To really experience love, that doll would need to have been able to choose to love or not to love.
So in giving us free will, the potential for evil to enter the world is there because that is the only way to create the potential for real, genuine, sincere love. But it was us, in our free will, who brought that potential evil into this world. This is what the Bible says in Romans 5 as well.
Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people. Romans 5:12 NIV.
The next question you may have is; Couldn’t have God forseen all of this? Yes He did, but it’s kind of like when parents have kids. They can foresee that there is very real potential that their kids may suffer disappointment, pain and “bad things”. But they still have kids anyways. Why? Because they know there is a very real potential for an indescribably awesome joy and love to come from them having kids. God knew we would rebel against Him, but He also knew many would choose to accept Him and have a relationship with Him. It was all worth it for that, even though it would cost His own Son great suffering to achieve our redemption.Free will creates the potential for evil but it's the only way to create the potential for real love. Click To Tweet Real love always involves a choice...or else we would be robots. Click To Tweet
Examples In The Bible
Job is probably the most misunderstood book in the Bible. People famously remember Job and all the suffering he endured. One of the most popular verses from Job comes in chapter 1 when Job says “the Lord giveth and He taketh away.” And people quote it all the time when bad things happen, basically attributing the evil to God and backing it up with this verse. However, that is taking this verse totally out of context because this was not God saying that He gives and takes away…it was Job. The Bible was simply showing us what Job thought at that point and his opinion, but later in the book he admits that he didn’t know what he was talking about and repents.
Nine chapters of the book of Job consist of his friends opinions. They were talking to him about what they thought of God what he needs to do to back in right standing with God. It is recorded in scripture and Holy Spirit inspired, but his friends opinions were all wrong! This gives us insight into what ignorance will do for us. Again Hosea 4:6 says people perish because of a lack of knowledge. We need to know God for ourselves and build the foundation of our doctrines and beliefs on the rock of Jesus.The book of Job gives us insight into what ignorance will do for us. We need to know God for ourselves. Click To Tweet
Sodom & Gomorrah
The destruction of the cities of Sodom & Gomorrah is commonly misunderstood too. What people remember is the destruction and Lot’s wife being turned into a pillar of salt, but what is often forgot is when Abraham is talking to God in Genesis 18 and he asks God; will you destroy the righteousness with the wicked? He says, that be far from you God.
In the next chapter we see God was telling the angels not to do anything until all the righteous were gone. God called Lot righteous, despite of him giving up his daughters. We tend to think of righteousness as doing all the good works, but remember Paul defined righteousness in Philippians 3:9 when he said:
not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in[a] Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. NIV.
So God couldn’t destroy the land if there was one righteous person there. And that was in the Old Testament. In the New Testament we see Jesus saying in John 12:
32 And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all unto me.
33 This he said, signifying what death he should die. KJV.
In the actual KJV it says will draw all men unto me, but that word men is in italics, meaning it’s not really there in the original context. In context what He’s talking about is drawing all JUDGEMENT unto him, not men. Jesus took that on for us.
The Acceptable Year of the Lord
I thought this would be a good place for a reminder about the acceptable year of the Lord. Remember what Jesus said in Luke 4:
18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,
19 To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.
When people pronounce that bad things are God’s judgment they don’t understand this is the acceptable year of the Lord. Do we see Jesus judging anybody in the Gospels? The people He came against the hardest were the Pharisees. Why? Because they were steeped in self-righteousness. They were teaching people to believe in their own works for right standing. The one sin that matters is not believing in Jesus, which is a result of lack of knowledge or self-righteousness.
Later in the book of Luke, when you get to chapter 9, we see Jesus on his way back to Jerusalem for one of the festivals. The Samaritans were coming against Jesus and then we see the James & John ask Jesus if they should call down thunder and judgment on them like Elijah did. Now that took some faith and you might think that Jesus would have been happy with them, but Jesus rebuked them and said they knew not what spirit they were of. He was saying they didn’t really know the true nature of God.
People who preach judgment are doing what James and John did. They may actually have good intentions but first of all, the judgment they are preaching is false and second of all, the Bible says it’s the GOODNESS of God that leads men to repentance. Man wants to punish others out of their problems, but God just loves them out of their problems. The Bible says this over and over. The son of man does not come to destroy man’s lives but to save them, whether they deserve it or not.
A Confident Expectation
I don’t normally like to do this, but with it being 9/11 just a few weeks ago and the subject matter of this blog, it did remind me that you never know what can happen. I’m not trying to fear anybody into a decision for Christ, but hopefully increase the importance of this information in your lives. In my last series I talked about how the presidential campaign tends to take up so much of our time in election years, but regardless of who gets elected, those people aren’t the ones who can give you life.
God doesn’t want you wondering. He doesn’t want you constantly worrying about whether or not you’re headed to heaven or hell. His Word has given us all the ability to have a confident expectation of our eternal salvation when we put our trust in Him. You don’t have to make a big spectacle about it or perform a bunch of religious sacraments in order to receive it. You can simply make a decision in your heart and invite God into your life. THAT is how you gain God’s peace and confidence, regardless of any bad things that might happen to you.
Genesis 1:31 says: “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.”
Romans 8:18: “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”
1 John 5:13: “These things I’ve written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God in order that you may know that you have eternal life.”
The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. 1 John 3:8 NIV
My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge. Hosea 4:6 NIV1 Cor 2:9 No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him Click To Tweet
Song of the Week
The song below is one that reminds me of God’s faithfulness towards us no matter what is going on and what it looks like in the natural. He never leaves us or forsakes us. He will always be “By Your Side”. The lyrics about how “you’re so much better than you know” and “I’ll bring you home” particularly speak to me in this song. Thanks for stopping by. Let me know if you have any questions. Blessings.