Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?
This is an age-old question that demands an answer; so many people face tragic circumstances every day. "Why did this have to happen to them?" people ask. "So-and-so was a good person. They didn't deserve this!"
Well, first, we must define what "good" means. Jesus defines "good" as follows: "And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? none is good, save one, that is, God. Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother. And he said, All these have I kept from my youth up. Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me." (Luke 18:19-22) To be good, Jesus taught, is to keep the commandments; in fact, He said that no one is good but God! But He didn't stop there; Jesus points to the real issue: Taking up the cross and following the Lord. This is why James 2:8-11 states, "If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself,' you do well; but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors. For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. For He who said, 'Do not commit adultery,' also said, 'Do not murder.' Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law." The point is that none of us is good; Psalm 14:1-3 states, "The fool has said in his heart, 'There is no God.' They are corrupt, They have done abominable works, There is none who does good. The LORD looks down from heaven upon the children of men, To see if there are any who understand, who seek God. They have all turned aside, They have together become corrupt; There is none who does good, No, not one." Because of Adam's disobedience, sin came into the world (see Romans 5). It's not that we all do terribly bad things according to the world's standards; rather, we can be as good as we want to be and that won't make us a good person by God's standards -- We have to do it His way. The only way that we can be truly good is to follow the only One who is good, "that is God." Therefore, to say that someone was a good person and didn't deserve a tragedy is to miss the point entirely. In fact, every single one of us deserves much worse; we all deserve to end up in Hell, but "God who is rich in mercy" redeemed us so that we wouldn't have to pay that price if we would just follow Him -- doing things His way, not our own. My point here is that sin is what causes bad things to happen to "good" people (and, lest you think that I'm being too hasty or uncaring, I will clarify this in a moment).
Let's look at a few Scriptures to verify this.
Psalm 37:27-28: "Depart from evil, and do good; and dwell for evermore. For the LORD loveth judgment, and forsaketh not his saints; they are preserved for ever: but the seed of the wicked shall be cut off."
Jeremiah 4:22: "For My people are foolish, They have not known Me. They are silly children, And they have no understanding. They are wise to do evil, But to do good they have no knowledge."
Micah 6:8: "He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?"
So to do good is to depart from evil, to keep God's standards (justice, mercy, humility, etc.). Of course this would seem to imply that bad things happen because people are evil -- and this is partially true; bad things happen because of sin, and people are sinful. Did this tragic circumstance happen then because of that person's sin? It depends. God is good and He wants His people to be good according to His own standards, not ours. Isaiah 1:16-17 states, "Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow." On the other hand, sin brought death into the world; therefore, even if a person is living for God, bad things can still happen - the devil is always looking for an opportunity to wreak havock: "The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly." (John 10:10) When I say that sin brought about a tragedy, I mean that sometimes, people get in the way of God's plan; we are humans who make mistakes; therefore, sometimes, we may try to do things our own way and that causes a tragedy. Other times, however, sin is to blame because the person does not know the Lord and that brought about the tragedy. And still other times, even when people are not necessarily to blame, sin is the cause, because Adam and Eve's fall brought about death. Romans 5:12 states, "...just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned ...." We also have a specific example in the Bible of a man who was crippled for 48 years because of his sins: "Afterward Jesus found him in the temple, and said to him, 'See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you.'" (John 5:14) And I would like to briefly clarify that this does not mean that God put this sickness on the man; rather, it was the man's sin that caused the sickness. In the book of Isaiah, God is repeatedly telling His people to repent; if they do not, they will face the consequences. In chapter 33:24, He says, "And the inhabitant will not say, "I am sick"; The people who dwell in it will be forgiven their iniquity." In Hebrews 12, we also see that the chastening of the Lord can be painful, "but afterward, it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it." So there are numerous instances of our shortcomings causing bad things to happen.
However, it is important to remember that God is always there to forgive us and to protect us. This does not mean that troubles will not come. In fact, Jesus said, "These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world." (John 16:33) The word "tribulation" means " pressure... afflicted(-tion), anguish, burdened, persecution, tribulation, trouble." So you see, this covers practically every bad thing we could experience; these things will come, but Jesus promised us that He has overcome it all! Therefore, we can, too! Interestingly, a root word of "tribulation" means "a rut or worn track: path." "You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore." (Psalm 16:11) The Lord has a path for each of us to follow -- the narrow path. It is narrow because there are obstacles to be overcome, challenges to face; few find this path, because, as Jesus said, "Difficult is the way which leads to life." (Matthew 7:14) But we have His promise that if we press on, we will see Him on the other side -- at the end of the road! "Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him." (James 1:12) In fact, Paul says in Romans 8:17 that we are children of God and joint heirs with Christ, "if indeed we suffer with Him that we also may be glorified together." I once heard a quote that went like this: "Life is a journey, God is my guide; We travel safely together side-by-side." How true that is! God hasn't left you alone on this difficult journey called life; He is with you always. David even said, "Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there." (Ps 139:7-8) Sometimes, it can feel like we are literally walking through hell; but I once heard someone say, "When you going through hell, don't stop!" Why? Because we have this promise: "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death; I will fear no evil; for You are with me. Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me." (Psalm 23:1-2)
We also need to remember that God cares about those people who have experienced tragedies -- the oppressed, the fatherless, and the widow. He has not forsaken them; He gives life more abundantly, and He has promised to never leave us nor forsake us! And if He cares for them, He will not cause bad things to happen to them. My point is that God is good. People blame God all the time for causing tragedies: "God why did you do this?" But God is not to blame; Psalm 119:68 states, "You are good and do good," and throughout Scripture this sentiment is repeated. Actually, God is the one who comforts those who have experienced tragedies: "Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God." (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). And here is how He does it: "The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified." (Isaiah 61:1-3) In 2 Corinthians 7:5, Paul says, "we were troubled on every side. Outside were conflicts, inside were fears." No one deserves suffering, but it is a part of life because of sin that is in the world. It may or may not have been as a result of one person's sin that a tragedy has come upon him, but suffering is a result of the sin that started with Adam and Eve in the garden. Sufferings will come in this life; that in inevitable. But Paul goes on to share some good news: "Nevertheless God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us..." God is our comforter, He is our Helper; He will never leave us. He knows what we are experiencing -- He watched His Only Son die on the cross, carrying the weight of the world (and it was His choice; He didn't have to do it, but He did it just for you, just for me!).
So why do bad things happen to good people? Sin is the short answer. Sin brought death into the world; most of the things which are wrong in the world are as a result of sin. But the good news is that there will come a day when all things will become new: "And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, 'Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.' Then He who sat on the throne said, 'Behold, I make all things new.' And He said to me, 'Write, for these words are true and faithful.'" (Revelation 21:3-5)
In John 9, when Jesus encountered the man that was born blind, He said that the purpose of the man being born blind was so that the works of God could be displayed in Him -- His healing! And Jesus was quick to clarify that it was not because of the man's sin; hence, as was stated before, not all tragedies happen because of that person's sin. God did not allow this bad thing to happen; not everything that happens is God's will. But He USED it for His glory; it is the same with any tragedy. Just about every person I have heard of who has experienced a tragedy has come out of it with a testimony of some sort. This does not mean that they are not grieving. It does not mean that they are not still hurting. But God can use tragedies to bring people to Himself -- people who might not otherwise hear the Gospel, but they will listen to someone who has experienced a similar situation as them. And if the person who has experienced a tragedy does not know the Lord, God can use you to reach out to them with the compassion and the love of Christ.
The bottom line is that life will throw us some curveballs, but it's how we hit them that matters. If you're dealing with a tragedy today, I would encourage you to look to God; He is the comforter, He loves you, and He wants to be there for you in this time of grief. The Bible says, "Casting all your cares upon Him for He cares for you." (1 Peter 5:7) I always say that if He cares for you, then you are taken care of! That care is given to Him and He is working in that situation! He CARES FOR YOU! Turn to Him today!
"And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose." ~ Romans 8:28
"He heals the brokenhearted And binds up their wounds." ~ Psalm 147:3
"You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness..." ~ Psalm 30:11
"The LORD bless you and keep you; The LORD make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you; The LORD lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace." ~ Numbers 6:24-26
P.S. If you are going through something right now, please leave me a comment or contact me by email. I would love to pray for you, and hopefully, to encourage you. Thank you!