Why Do Bad Things Happen To Good People?
Can you think of a recent tragedy in your life? How does it make you feel? Sometimes it’s hard to know why tragedy strikes; there are plenty of questions, such as Why do bad things happen to good people? but there are no solid answers. Yet since our miscomprehension might threaten belief in a benevolent God, it is worth reaching for some kind of answer, however incomplete.
When bad things happen to good people we may ask God why?
When bad things happen, we might question why a loving, omnipotent God allowed them. When the cause of suffering can be traced directly back to an individual, we can understand it in the light of God giving us freewill. However, when the cause is not the fault of an individual – for example sickness, natural disaster or death - it can be harder to comprehend why God didn’t intervene.
This tension between the existence of suffering and a Sovereign God has been explored by Henri Blocher, who suggests we recall three core propositions at the heart of Christianity. He states that we must remember the ‘evil of evil, the lordship of the Lord, the goodness of God’ (Blocher, Evil and the Cross). By looking at the cross, we can see each of these themes displayed: Evil is so terrible that it can only be removed by Jesus’ sacrifice; The sovereignty of God is shown through Old Testament prophecies being fulfilled; The goodness of God is evident in his self-sacrifice for the sake of overcoming evil. As Jesus Himself said, there is ‘no love greater’ (John 15:13). So we can continue to believe in the inherent goodness of God in the midst of evil.
Does God suffer when bad things happen to good people?
Additionally, it is hard to consider the cross and conclude that God is indifferent to our suffering. Do you think that when bad things happen to people, God suffers? That He has emotion and weeps? There are passages which suggest this – firstly, Jesus ‘wept’ when He heard that Lazarus had died (John 11:35). Secondly, the Lord's lament in the book of Jeremiah implies that He weeps when His people turn away from Him. The inclusive pronoun here suggests God's part in the grief: 'Until our eyes overflow with tears and water streams from our eyelids' (Jeremiah 9:18).
We can take comfort in the knowledge that God empathises. But why does He allow it? Is it divine judgement? Is it spiritual warfare? Is it God refining our character? Perhaps it's all three.
When we live in continual sin, it might be that God allows suffering in order to draw us back to Him. C.S.Lewis wrote that God shouts to us through pain; it is His 'megaphone to rouse a deaf world.' (Lewis, The Problem of Pain).
In terms of spiritual warfare, the apostle Paul warned us that our struggle is not against earthly powers but against 'the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms' (Ephesians 6:12). This suggests we will suffer at the hand of evil forces.
Additionally, we know that God is sovereign over suffering and that He brings good out of it. We can trust that 'in all things God works for the good of those who love Him' (Romans 8:28). Bad things may well happen to good people, we may well suffer, but difficult seasons can help us become more dependent upon God and shape our character to become more like Him.
Bad things happen to good people, yet we have hope in Christ
Finally, suffering as a Christian is coloured by the hope that we have in Christ. We know that we are heading towards a place where there will be 'no more death, or mourning, or crying, or pain …' (Revelation 21:4). There is no conclusive answer to the excruciating pain of deep suffering. Why do bad things happen to good people? we do not know, but we can hold onto the promise of heaven.
-What do you think? Are the possible reasons I've put here satisfactory answers to why bad things happen to good people?
-Do you think that God has emotions like us - that He weeps over our suffering?