Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?
Is God fair? You don’t have to live on this planet very long to see unfairness, injustice, oppression and abject evil. We observe rich people cheating poor people, hear of child abuse and human trafficking. There are shootings in our schools. Bad people seem to prosper while those trying to do what is right get the short end of the stick. The call we never expect…the diagnosis that knocks us off our feet…the regrets that keep us up at night. How could God let it happen? Why didn’t He answer that prayer? It’s one of the toughest questions of all time. It’s also one of the most difficult questions to understand, and even harder to attempt to explain. Life is full of difficult questions, but thankfully God’s Word is full of answers. He welcomes our questions. In part 1 out the Why series we answer the question, “Why do bad things happen to good people?”
Bottom Line: God is not the creator of evil and suffering.
Something To Talk About:
C.S. Lewis had an interesting perspective on pain. Lewis had many things happen in his life. He lost his mother at an early age, saw his dad emotionally abandon him, suffered from a respiratory illness as a teenager, fought and was wounded in World War I, and finally had to bury his beloved wife. Through all of this, Lewis wrote about all of his heartache in his work The Problem of Pain. In this work, Lewis penned one of his most famous lines: “Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” Although suffering is not good, God can accomplish good in several ways:
- God uses pain to draw people toward Christ: John 16:33 says, “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” I love that Jesus doesn’t simply say we’ll have trials and sorrow and then leaves it to us to figure out. Instead, He promises peace and reminds us that He has overcome the world, meaning our hardships aren’t without purpose. One of those purposes could be to draw people to Himself, because you’ll never know that God is all you need until God is all you’ve got.
- God uses pain to sharpen our character; God wants to transform your life through adversity. Why? It produces character. There will always be difficult things that we must overcome in every season, and God wants to use every single one of them to develop your character. The Apostle Paul, a man who knew suffering, wrote about this in his letter to the Christians in Rome. “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. (Romans 5:3-4) People who have suffered much and didn’t give up, either outwardly or inwardly, have certain richness and strength about them.
- God uses pain to lovingly discipline His children for their own good: God allows us to undergo trials and temptations so our faith will be tested and we will grow in maturity as Christians. God uses these trials to discipline us for godliness. Hebrews 12:9-10 says, “Since we respected our earthly fathers who disciplined us, shouldn’t we submit even more to the discipline of the Father of our spirits, and live forever? For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness.” Never is the hardship and suffering sent our way done on a whim. His ultimate purpose is to make us like His son (Romans 8:29). In order for that to happen, He has to change us. Ultimately, that is the purpose of all discipline, whether it is from a parent, or a coach, or from God. God seeks to change our behavior, our actions, our thoughts, and our motives.
- God can accomplish something out of the negatives of life: One of the paradoxes of Christianity is that our good God uses pain for our good. Meaning that our biggest sorrows can result in our greatest joy. When you think about Jesus’ greatest sorrow – suffering the shame, punishment, and death for our sin, the result was great joy – the redemption of humanity and the opportunity for a relationship with the living God. The Jewish religious leaders envied Jesus Christ’s wisdom and popularity. They did not believe He was the promised Messiah, and they devised a plot to falsely accuse Him and bring Him to trial. After a mockery of justice, cruel beatings, and appalling indignities, Jesus was crucified. It would be easy to look at these men for what they were. But God looked at them as human agents used by God to accomplish God’s bigger purposes. Jesus knew He had been sent into the world to offer His life as a pure sacrifice to pay the debt of man’s sin against God. The wicked actions of His enemies enabled Him to fulfill God’s purpose of redemption.
- Our temporary uncertainty is not powerful enough to cancel out God’s sovereignty. Agree or disagree and why?
- Read John 16:33 and Galatians 6:7-8: These verses explain bad things happen because our world is broken and because of our own actions. Why is it important that we understand that we live in a broken world? Describe a time when you endured a difficult situation that was the result of your actions. What did you learn from your experience?
- When have you seen God allow injustice in your world? What did that do to or for your faith? How did it influence the way you view God?
- Have you ever seen someone who was suffering extraordinarily but demonstrated extraordinary confidence in God? If so, how did it change the way you think about suffering and faith?
- Have you ever experienced a time when pain sharpened your character?
- Read John 9:3 and James 1:2-3. These verses show us that bad things happen sometimes because God is doing something within you. How have you seen God at work while in the middle of difficult situations? What difficult situation are you currently in the middle of that you are struggling to understand God’s purpose? What do you think God may be trying to do in your life as a result of the difficult circumstances you’re facing?
- How do you react to pain being used for discipline?
- What can or should we do differently this week as a result of this week’s message?
Take one thing home with you:
We all want God to rid the world of injustice and suffering. We all have questions like “Why can’t I be healthy like others?” or “Why does God allow him or her to be married?” or “Why couldn’t have I been born into a wealthy family?” And there are some people who market Christianity as a better alternative because your life will be better. The reality is different however as Christians face many trials and tribulations in their walk with God. But before we think how unfair that is, consider this:
Nobody was treated more unfairly than Jesus. The man who stands at the center of all we believe was treated extraordinarily unfairly. The man who taught us all people have inherent value was executed. The man whose definition of good and just informs your definitions of good and just was treated unjustly. Jesus knows all about being treated unfairly.