Why does the devout Christian family suddenly go bankrupt? Why do good men and women loose their jobs? Why does the pastor of the church find out his wife has cancer? Why is it that the happiest people you know struggle with depression? Why does divorce strike and ruin family dynamics? Why do children grow up without knowing the love and kindness of parents? Why do remote villages at the ends of the earth starve while praising God relentlessly? Why does the woman with no religion at all, but whose lived well according to all other standards, loose her child in a car accident?
This is a question I’ve struggled with, as well as struggled to answer. It seems the biggest question in defending faith in Jesus is, “Well, if God exists, why do bad things happen to good people?” or “If Jesus is so great, why am I struggling in this? Why is there so much evil in the world?” “Doesn’t God love me/her/them?”
The Bible says that God is eternal. He is infinite. Omniscient, omnipresent AND omnipotent. To lack in faith in Him is to disagree with one, several, or maybe even all of those statements. It’s the absence of trust in His master plan, replaced with the presence of trust in our own plans and the plans of the world.
Here’s the thing we have to understand about evil. Evil does not come from God, nor can we blame God for all the evil, sin, and “bad stuff” in the world. Evil comes from Satan. When Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden, they had a choice. God had told them they could eat from any of the other plants, just not this one. When Adam and Eve were deceived by the serpent in the Garden, they turned their back on God and brought sin into the previously perfect world.
So why did he put the tree there in the first place? God knew what would happen if Adam and Eve disobeyed, so he could have left that tree out of the garden. But He didn’t- He gave them a choice.
God leaves our free will. He gave us minds to think and to make our own decisions.
So, “Why do bad things happen to good people”? The folley actually lies in the question.
You see, the cut and dry Biblical answer is simple- There are no “good people” (Ouch. I know. #conviction)
Harsh? Maybe it seems that way, but the Bible makes it abundantly clear that we are all both tainted by and infected with sin.
“Surely there is not a man on Earth that does good and never sins” Ecclesiastes 7:20
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” Romans 3:23
“If we sat we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us” 1 John 1:8
The hard truth is, every human being in Earth deserves to be thrown in Hell at this very moment. Every second we spend on Earth is by the mercy of God. Even the most terrible things we could possibly endure on this Earth are nothing compared to the eternal Hell we deserve. (ouch. #doubleconviction)
So perhaps a better question is in order. Why does God allow good things to happen to bad people? To any of us? Romans 5:8 answers-
“But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Despite all the sin and evil in this world, God loves us. He loves us enough to take away the death penalty for us (“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” Romans 6:23)! If we receive Christ Jesus as Savior (“If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:9) we will be forgiven and promised eternal life, happiness and home in Heaven.
In the Old Testament, there is a man named Job. Job was an obedient man of the Lord who reaped the benefits of a highly successful life. He had the family, the health and even the property. With his boatloads of wealth and prosperity, Job remains both humble and faithful to God- giving thanks always. Satan believes that Job is only faithful to God because he has everything he could ever want, claiming that if it was all to go away, Job would turn his back on God. So, God allows Satan to test Job. Satan was given full reign to do whatever he wanted to Job, but save his life. (Satan is convinced he’ll turn his back on God once his worldly possessions are gone.) Satan kills his animals, burns his land, but Job turns to the Lord. He kills Job’s sons and daughters, but Job immediately falls to His knees in worship-
“The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. May the name of the Lord be praised.” Job 1:21
Satan covers Job’s entire body with painful sores, and even his wife tells him to curse God. But steadfast in his faith, Job continues to praise the name of the Father-
“Though he slay me, yet I will hope in Him” Job 13:15
(*note: “he”- Satan/ “He”- God. Job knows the truth that evil does not come from God, but from Satan.)
Job didn’t understand why all these things were happening to Him, but he knew that the Lord was good, and trusted Him. Can you even imagine having that much faith? That your first instinct or reaction to the death of all your children, the destruction of your livelihood, and the total end to your health was to literally fall on your hands and knees, worshiping the God who blessed you with these things in the first place? That in the face of adversity from your best friends and even your wife, you would cling to your undying trust in the Father that all things would work out according to His “good, pleasing and perfect will”? This should be our immediate reaction.
Though God doesn’t walk around giving Satan control of peoples lives on whims (at least, as far as I’m aware), Job’s tale applies directly to our own lives. Even if you’re not faced by bankruptcy or the destruction of property, the death of family members, or even your own wavering health, what about things like failure?
God wants us to succeed, right? — “God is in her, she will not fall” Psalm 46:5
The answer is- debatable. Debatable depending on whose version of success- whose master plan, ours or God’s- we’re using as the platform for our argument.
Currently, I’m reading a book called Love Does by Bob Goff (if you haven’t read it, I would wholeheartedly recommend). In chapter four of his book, he discusses this very thing.
He says, “The thing I love about God is that He intentionally guides people into failure. He made us be born as little kids who can’t walk or talk or even of to the bathroom correctly. We have to be taught everything. All that learning takes time, and He made us so that we are dependent on Him, our parents and each other. the whole thing is designed so that we try and try again until we finally get it right. And the whole time, He is endlessly patient.”
Even the disciples were slow to learn. Heck, they were a bunch of rag-tag, ordinary folks like you and me-they tripped up, they doubted, they failed big time, yet they still referred to themselves as His beloved. That’s because failure isn’t just okay- it’s better than okay.
“I used to be afraid of failing at the things that really mattered to me, but now I’m more afraid of succeeding at the things that don’t matter” –Bob Goff, Love Does
Yes. Sometimes things happen to people who seem undeserving of them. But God allows things to happen for His reasons, even if we don’t understand them. We just have to remember that God is good, just, loving and merciful.
“Trust in the Lord, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your path straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6
This post was taken from my original blog, haydenschwarting.theworldrace.org and is dedicated to my dear friend Dakota who I can always count on to ask me the deep questions and get me inspired to dig, research and get answers.