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Questions : Week 1

Why do bad things happen to good people? Why do bad things happen at all?

Have you ever been angry, confused, or frustrated? The real question is, have you ever been angry, confused, or frustrated with God? I have. I remember looking to the sky on more than one occasion not understanding why my life seemed out of control and yelling at the top of my lungs, “God, why are you doing this me?”

Although with some exception, church has become a place to be fake. I often think taglines on church signs should say, “Church Name The Perfect Place to Get Your Fake On.” If you’re reading this, I want to let you off the hook and say that it’s okay to have questions? God is not intimidated by our lack of understand and emotional responses. In fact, He knew this would happen. This is why He set the record straight in Isaiah 55:8-9 when He said:

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways… As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

He knows who He is, and He knows who we are. We won’t always get it. God is larger than life and we should expect nothing less. A God that I can understand and who operates on my level is not a God that I want to entrust with my life. I would be better off to handle things on my own.

I can’t attempt to answer all of the why questions when it comes to specific circumstances. My father-in-law passed away 3 years ago. My wife Mindy and I still don’t get it. We didn’t see many people come to know Jesus through his death nor have we seen anything that would resemble a positive impact from his death. More than that, things seem worse due to his absence. While I can’t give you all the answers I can offer some perspective and possible ways to change your thinking next time you face tough times.

Maybe the Problem is You – At least once a week a student comes to me with frustration toward God regarding the “why” question. “Why are my parents so unreasonable and ground me?” My answer, “because you were late for curfew”. God is not punishing you by giving you terrible parents. There will always be positive or negative consequences for our decisions. Students will often come with hurt because of a dating relationship gone badly and wonder why God is allowing them to hurt? My answer, “The guy you chose to date dated 3 girls in 2 months before you and cheated on the last 2. God did not force you to date a guy with a track record of heart breaking.” You get the idea. Maybe you’re the problem.

Our Broken World is the Problem – We live in a broken world. God did not break it… we did. I have not taught my 2-year-old Judah to disobey and yet he gets better at disobeying every day. Have you ever lied, talked behind someone’s back, treated others with disrespect, stolen, had a bad thought? Yeah, me too! God created perfect people, Adam and Eve, but they – like you and I – were given free choice to obey or disobey and they chose to disobey God. This is when the world broke.

Because of our broken world, bad things happen. Jesus promised us something before He left earth, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). The reality is the world is broken and so are we. This means we’re bad. So the question is not why do bad things happen to good people? The question is, why do good things happen to bad people? There has never been a “good” person who has walked this earth… except one. His name is Jesus, and He overcame the world so something not just good but GREAT could happen to us bad people. We have the hope of eternal life with Him and the promise that bad things will happen but He will get us through because He is with us always if we have a relationship with Him.

Maybe the Problem is You Thinking it’s a Problem – Maybe what you see as a set back in your life is really a set up? God can and will use adverse situations and circumstance to make us better, stronger, and more like Him. God can and will use your past as He shapes your future. Don’t underestimate what God can do in you through your misery. Jesus healed a blind man who was thought to be blind as punishment for the sins of His parents. People said he is suffering because He deserves it. Jesus said, “He is suffering so that the work of God may be displayed in his life. (John 9:3)

Some things to consider and apply…

  1. When you make decisions ask yourself: “Is this wise? Is it best?”
  2. When trouble comes, know that you may not know the why, but you can trust God anyway. Sometimes bad things happen even when it’s not our fault. So next time practice real faith that says, “I don’t understand but I will trust anyway. God is larger than life and I expect nothing less.”
  3. Are you willing to go through difficult things and trust that God is big enough to display Himself  in you?