Why do bad things happen to good people?
Why do good things happen to bad people?
These questions crash into our lives daily. We learn of fatal disease and terrible crises intruding on compassionate, loving friends. Then we hear about abundant privileges heaped on ruthless and cruel people. We can’t help ourselves, but we want to know...WHY??
What is our insatiable need to know WHY?
Is it our…
- our sense of justice?
- our desire to fix things?
- our desire to be in control?
- our desire to know it won’t happen again…or to me and my family?
I expect it’s a little of all of the above. This topic of suffering and evil remains as one of the biggest obstacles to faith. Whether beginning the journey or moving forward in the journey of faith, we want this question answered.
The thought goes something along these lines:
“How can I believe in a God who allows (fill-in-a-crisis)? This God is either weak or cruel!”
“How can I believe in a God who gives (fill-in-a-person) such an amazing (fill-in-a-new-privilege) when he/she has done such horrible things? This God is unjust or uncaring!”
We live in a broken world. News feeds reveal it anew each morning. We also live in community and are impacted by other people’s choices. Brokenness compounded. Yet, because we are created in the image of God, we know this is not the way it’s supposed to be. We are far far from perfection, beauty, and peace.
Questions about suffering and evil go as far back as the oldest pieces of recorded literature. The oldest book in the Bible — Job — deals with the question of bad things happening to good people.
The prophet Habakkuk vents to God also. He asks, “Why do wicked people prosper??” Habakkuk is quite angry with God!
Gradually both Habakkuk and Job come to the understanding that we cannot grasp the whole picture. You and I do not have all-knowledge. Sometimes the Lord allows crises. Sometimes we create them through our own actions. Sometimes we are impacted by other peoples’ crises. Sometimes we are caught amidst the physics of weather and natural forces.
How then do we respond?
With every challenge we face, we have the option to…
1) Dwell on the WHY or
2) Persevere and gain wisdom.
When a crisis hits, seek to move your thoughts beyond the WHY and onto learning and gaining wisdom. These are definitely easier words to write than they are to live out. But be assured, growth does indeed come through perseverance!
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. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.
Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position. But the rich should take pride in their humiliation—since they will pass away like a wild flower. For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich will fade away even while they go about their business. (James 1:2-11)
Ultimately, the question is: Do you trust God?