Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?


Forty years ago, my only sibling, a younger sister, died of cancer. She left a husband and two young boys. Many who knew her wrestled with the question, “Why does God let bad things happen to good people?”  That question has always bothered me.  First, it questions God’s and goodness, and we should never do that (Job 37:21 – 41:9) –  Secondly, it makes two fundamentally wrong assumptions.

First, it assumes that some people are “good.”  Maybe relatively speaking, comparing morally upright people with those who clearly are evil and wicked, we could call some “good.”  The Bible tells us none of us are “good” in absolute terms (Romans 3:23; 6:23; etc.).  None of us is good compared to God and His standards.  It’s like everyone lining up on the coast of California and start swimming to Hawaii.  Most would not get very far, but a few might get much further into the ocean than the majority.  Still, even these “good” swimmers would fall far short of Hawaii.  Some people might be better than others, but none are good enough in God’s sight.

The other problem with this statement is the wrong assumption that things which are hard, painful or difficult are “bad.”  No one would say that illness, broken families, financial loss or death are pleasant or enjoyable.   Some things may not be “good” in our human viewpoint, but God promises to bring good from them for His children who are living for Him (Romans 8:28).  Joseph said that what his brothers meant for evil God meant for “good” (Genesis 50:20).  If God is in sovereign control, and all He does is out of love for us, then everything that happens is for our growth and His glory, and that makes them “good.”  His purpose is to make us like Jesus, whatever that takes, not to make our life smooth and easy.

Still, I understand why people as why bad things happen to good people.  It does seem that trials befall those who don’t deserve them.  But then, what do any of us deserve?  Nothing but eternity in hell.  So, anything short of being in hell now is all by God’s grace and mercy, not because we are good enough to deserve it!

So instead of asking why bad things happen to good people, instead we should ask why good things (anything short of being in hell now) should happen to bad people (us – we are all sinful in God’s sight).  Everything that happens to Christians living for Jesus is good because God has a reason and purpose for it.  We may not enjoy all of it, just like a child does not the stretching, difficult and painful parts of growing up.  But God promises He is always with us and will never allow anything that is too much to happen to us (1 Corinthians 10:13).  So why do good things happen to bad people (us)?  It’s all God’s love and mercy.  Thank Him for it.

Romans 3:23 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Romans 8:28  We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose.

How do you respond when hearing of something “bad” happening to someone “good”?

How do you respond when it happens to you?

Keep your focus today on all the good things in your life compared to what you deserve from God.  Confess any entitlement feelings you may have toward God.

INDIA UPDATE & PRAYER REQUEST: This is from a pastor in Africa who has translated some of my books into Swahili and uses them to train other pastors:  “Hello Rev Jerry,  Praise God! It’s such a great blessing to me to train the Pastors and their wives on the Duties of Pastors starting from yesterday (see picture below).  The impact of the content of your teaching on the Duties of Pastors is great.  From my training and assessment, I learnt that there’s a lot that needs to be done in order to equip our Pastors and Bishops inclusive.

There’s already a great demand for training from the Pastors. I have already been booked by about 20 Pastors who are ready for the training soon. I need your prayers for more grace to fulfill the Lord’s will.”  Remember him and his training ministry in your prayers.  He uses my books to train local pastors.  Pray we would have money so he can give some of our books to the men he trains.



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