Wednesday 14 August 2013

Why do bad things happen to good people?

I often hear the question asked: "Why do bad things happen to good people? "
And for Christians that seems like a fair question. After all, once we are saved, aren't things supposed to go all our way? Shouldn't we be without sickness, prospering financially, never having to worry about another thing?  Unfortunately, even though this is sometimes taught in some churches, this is not scriptural or correct. The fact is; bad things do happen to good people!


My father passed away when I was 24 years old. He had battled cancer for about 4 years when he died. We (my family and many Christians around the world) had prayed and believed for his healing, however it didn't come, at least not in the way we expected it.

I have seen people live through, and die as a result of tragedy, heartache, poverty and sickness and wondered that very question: Why? There are plenty of examples both in scripture and in church history of people who weathered the storms of life. Some never made it out the other side. One great example is the prophet Elisha, who, even though he had a double portion of the anointing of his predecessor Elijah, was not taken up in a horse drawn chariot into heaven. Instead he became ill in his old age and died. (See 2 Kings 13:14).

You only need to think of the faithful thousands who lived (and died) in the many Wars we have witnessed in our history. Many of them innocent civilians who had no choice and no option in the decision or consequences of war.

Every day we are confronted with tragedy, heart ache and disappointment. I have witnessed Godly people taken from this earth or permanently adversely affected as a result of car accidents, plane crashes, cultural violence, religious zeal, the list goes on. And still we ask: Why? Why do bad things happen to good people?

This is not a sign of the times. We live in a broken world. The Bible says death is the result of sin; Sickness and disease from our disobedience to God. This is what we are born into...
The apostle Paul, one of God's greatest advocates responsible for 2/3 of the New Testament suffered much at the hands of man and nature. Listen to his sufferings:

Corinthians 11:24-27
"From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness"

And yet his concern was not for himself, but for seeing the good news of the Gospel made available for all people.Did bad things happen to him?

What about Job? His wife told him (Job 2:9-10)

"“Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!”
But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips."

Note Job's response? In all this he did not sin with his lips. Did bad happen to Job?

Death, sadness, sickness, tragedy, all these are a part of living in this broken world. I really think to a large extent Christians are not going to be exempt from this. However, there is one major difference between those who walk with The Lord and those who don't.
Paul in his letter to the Philippians gives instructions on how to overcome these trials that come our way:

Philippians 4:4-8
" Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!
Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things."

This doesn't mean we don't acknowledge the bad things when they come to us, but don't stay there... Don't dwell on these things. Often when people are confronted with a terrible tragedy, they can't get over it. They find it difficult to move on. I have seen people become so absorbed in their pain, that they have been incapacitated by it, totally unable to get on with their life, and missing out on the best life has to offer. Their suffering has become the focus of their life. But remember Philippians 4 say?

Joni Eareckson Tada writes in "365 days of Hope":

"My wheelchair is a suffering that came from the sovereign purpose of God. And since that time more than three decades ago, I've also suffered things that have come upon me as a result of being in the kingdom. I have chosen to flee temptation, to drag my body from church to hospital, to endure the scorn of those who don't know God. And I have suffered as a result. Such is the will of God for my life.
The result? The common suffering he comforts. The godly suffering he rewards. And I wouldn't want to exchange either for anything."

At the beginning of this article I talked about the death of my father. As I watched his lifeless body lying there in that casket, I called out to God :"Why? Why did you let him die in this way? Surely he was a good man who loved you, whose children all love you, who didn't do bad things to anyone?"
And as clear as the day came the response from my Heavenly Father: " Son, will you trust Me?"

Finally I leave you with the words of the hymn written by Horatio Spafford, who literally lost everything, finance, business, his home and later his daughters in a terrible shipping accident, and was still able to pen these beautiful words:

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.
But, Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul!
And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

Have a great week!

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