Second, this question is not asked when everything is great and we are happy with life. People usually ask this question in the midst of tragedy. The grief, pain, and sadness that go along with this question often make us angry. All of those things put together make this a difficult discussion. So let me start by saying, I'm sorry if that's you right now. I hope and pray that God comforts you in your time of need. I assure you that God is good and I urge you to let this difficult time cause you to rely on God more rather than turning from Him in anger and unbelief.
Why do bad things happen to good people?
My first answer to the question is not exactly an answer. Instead, I have a problem with the question. Who are these good people we are referring to? I'm not a good person. Are you? How do you stack up when you compare yourself to the Ten Commandments? Have you always put God first? Do you tell lies? Do you steal? Not just grand theft auto, what about stealing music on the internet or stealing time from your employer? Do you cheat? Do you hate people? Do you love others as yourself? Do you cut people down with your words? Do you lust after attractive people? The list goes on and on.
As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. "Good teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?" "Why do you call me good?" Jesus answered. "No one is good--except God alone. -- Mark 10:17-18
None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one. Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive. The venom of asps is under their lips. Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes. -- Romans 3:10-18
I think we lose sight of this fact in everyday life. We tend to compare ourselves to the really bad people and we always come out as good. We are way better than the guy we see on the news who robbed that store the other night. We're more considerate than that woman who maced people in Walmart on Black Friday. We're totally above those crooked politicians or CEO's who lie to and cheat millions. Those are the bad guys. We are the good guys.
But if we stop and take a moment to see things from God's perspective, everything changes. God is perfect and in Him is no sin at all. When He looks down at us, every last one of us is filthy to Him. We take from each other and backbite. We are selfish and greedy, each in our own way. We hurt the people around us. We lie to make ourselves look better. Frankly, we are a mess.
We're asking the wrong question.
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. -- Romans 6:23
None of us are good people. In fact, we are all bad people. We have all sinned by thought, word, and deed. Sin leaves us guilty before God and deserving of His judgment. The Bible tells us that even one sin makes us worthy of death and Hell. The truth is that each and every last one of us deserves death and Hell for our acts of disobedience to God Almighty.
So. . . why are we not dead yet? Why are we not in Hell now? Why did I wake up this morning in my warm bed? Why do I get to enjoy an amazing wife and daughter? Why did I get three good meals yesterday? If all I deserve is death and Hell, why have I been blessed with such an amazing and good life? We are all bad people and bad people deserve death and Hell. There is a different question we should be asking.
Why do good things happen to all of us bad people?
That's the real question. And the answer is that God is a much better God than I would be if I was in His shoes. God is merciful beyond measure. God takes pleasure in giving us grace. God is forgiving to the max! I am quick to pay people back when they hurt me. God is extremely slow to anger. God is good even to His enemies.
Every moment that you and I get anything from life other than death and Hell is a gift of God's grace. That's the way you and I should be thinking. And that puts this question into perspective. It makes sense that bad things happen to us. It doesn't make sense that God blesses sinful people like us. And what makes the least sense of all is that God sent His Son Jesus to pay for our sins with His death so that God could give us eternal life and save us from Hell. Praise God that He is sooooooo good to us even though we are sooooooo bad!
Questions and Thoughts
- Take time to count the blessings in your life this week. Literally. Write them down and start each day off by thanking God for them.
- Spend time this week thanking God for forgiveness, grace, and the cross.
- If you haven't put your faith in Jesus to be saved, please do so today. Let me or your pastor or a Christian friend know, we'd love to help you begin your new life with Jesus!
- Vote for next Theology Thursday's topic at the top right of this blog!