“I know you’re not supposed to question God, but sometimes you just have to wonder why bad things happen to good people.”
Someone said this to me after telling me about a godly woman we both know who is suffering through sickness, loss and heartache in her immediate family.
We’re quick to say “God is good all the time!” when things are good. But when things are really, really bad – is God still good? Does your heart feel as full of God’s love when you’re suffering or when you hear of someone else’s suffering?
Why do bad things happen to good people?
I had an answer for my friends’ question that day, but it was an all over the place answer with theological knowledge and no scripture verses. I began to look for the answer in my daily Bible reading, asking the Holy Spirit for guidance.
The answer is found all throughout the Bible!
Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill. So the sisters sent to him, saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” (John 11:1-4)
For the Lord your God has blessed you in all the work of your hands. He has watched over your journey through this immense wilderness. The Lord your God has been with you these past forty years, and you have lacked nothing. (Deuteronomy 2:7 – spoken by Moses)
The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their cry for help.
The face of the Lord is set against those who do what is evil.
Those who look to him are radiant with joy…Taste and see that the Lord is good. How happy is the person who takes refuge in him! (Psalm 34:5, 8)
We are temporary citizens of this earth (Psalm 119:19), and God’s plans stretch from eternity past through eternity future. There’s no way we, as finite humans, could authoritatively say why a certain person suffers.
Why shouldn’t we question God?
For the word of the Lord is right, and all his work is trustworthy. (Psalm 33:4)
Unlike any human you will ever know, God is always right and He can always be trusted. God doesn’t behave the way we do because He is vastly different in character and in nature.
When we understand the gospel, we quickly come to realize that those who receive God’s saving grace are the only ones who actually get what they don’t deserve. We all deserve complete destruction (Romans 6:23).
What’s the difference?
Here’s a different question: what’s the difference between the suffering of someone who knows God intimately and the suffering of someone who doesn’t have a relationship with Him?
One who is righteous has many adversities, but the Lord rescues him from them all. (Psalm 34:19)
The difference is His presence. Did you see in the verses above how God cared for His people who were suffering? He watched over them. He was with them. His eyes were on them. He was listening to them. For those who don’t know God, His face is turned away from them.
I know from personal experience the radiant joy that comes when we look to Him in adversity (Psalm 34:5). It’s different from anything you experience on the good days.
This simple, sweet gospel song is the perfect expression of a happy heart that has taken refuge in Jehovah God. I love the line that says, “If my life were free of trials, Lord, I’d lose my view of you. They’re sweet trophies that remind me of all you do.”
Why do bad things happen to good people? I don’t know the answer to that question for specific situations, but I do know that we shouldn’t be surprised when they do happen. I do know that God can always be trusted. I do know that His presence brings incredible joy even in the darkest of trials. I do know that God sees you in your pain. I do know that God hears your cries of grief.
When we turn to Him, not only are our faces radiant with joy, but God receives the glory. Isn’t He worthy of it? He rescues us. He loves us. He is trustworthy. Amen!
If you’re wrestling with any of these questions, I encourage you to seek for the answers in God’s Word. Read the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) to see how Jesus ministered to people. Read the Psalms to see God’s heart for the hurting.
If you’re suffering today, I especially hope that you’ll find peace and rest in His presence. ❤
I sought the Lord, and he answered me and rescued me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant with joy; their faces will never be ashamed. (Psalm 34:4-5)