One of the most difficult tasks I have had to endure in my time as a preacher is understand why bad things happen to good people. This year has certainly been one of those years I have had to contemplate this particular idea. Dawn and I lost our unborn baby. (I know that many have endured this hardship, but it was particularly difficult upon me and in some ways I still haven’t recovered from it). As we were dealing with this issue, Dawn’s mother took a turn for the worse. Her health continues to deteriorate what seems like daily anymore. One of my oldest and dearest friends and someone I love very much is going to lose her baby after being born about a month ago. I have known Laura just about my whole life and I have firmly believed that she one day would make a great mother (and she doesn’t deserve this). And the list goes on of people I could mention that have not had a great 1st half of the year. Each of them are “good” people. In fact, this is the very conversation that Dawn had with her father a month ago. He couldn’t understand why God would allow something like this to happen to Vickie (Dawn’s mom). She is not a bad person. She has never hurt anyone. It just doesn’t seem fair. Well, suffering rarely seems fair to the person suffering.
Suffering comes from a variety of sources. When we come to understand why we suffer we can thing begin to understand why it good people can suffer.
Some suffer as a direct result of their own sin. This is the person whose sin has found them out. Some of these people are punished by our legal system. But, some of them suffer physical consequences as a result of their sins. STD’s for participating sexual immorality certainly fall into this category as well. (Of course, we could easily argue that these people are not “good people.”
Some suffer as a result of someone else’s sin. When I was a young child I lost my aunt and my cousin to a drunk driver. My uncle, and his surviving son, did nothing wrong to deserve this. (At the time my uncle was a faithful Christian). Someone else made the mistake of getting drunk on a Friday afternoon and slammed into their car throwing them both from it. I cannot even begin to explain unto you the emotional damage that it caused upon my family. What I do know is that it happened as no fault of their own. What we need to remember that in these circumstances God will bring justice. God reminds us of that when he told the souls under the altar to wait just a little longer. Those that wronged them would be punished in God’s time (Rev. 6:9-11).
Some suffer because we live in a world that is without God. The world we live in is filled with suffering because of sin. In Gen. 3 we learn that death, toiling and suffering are all introduced into the world as a direct result of Adam and Eve’s sin. The world we now live in is cursed by man’s sinful actions. Every bit of suffering mankind goes through is a daily reminder that we have been separated from God, the one that has the power to remove suffering from our lives.
I know many people just don’t understand what God doesn’t do something about the suffering in the world now. What is He waiting for? When they say this, they fail to realize that he already has. This world is like a staging ground. It was never meant to be our permanent home. It is a training ground to prepare us for the world that is to come. That world is described as being without pain and suffering. “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away (Rev. 21:4).” Pain, suffering, sorrow and death are removed. Or better put, we are removed from the world where these things exist.
This is made possible by the one who bore the suffering of mankind. Jesus himself said that he was the way, the truth and the life and no man comes to the Father but by him (John 14:6). Sin separates us from God, and without Jesus we cannot find our way back to him. (This does mean man hasn’t tried see Gen. 11). What we also see in the life of Jesus is that the way had to be paid by suffering. God will not permit sin to go unpunished. He would cease to be a just God if that were the case. So, in his love he allowed his son to pay the price for our sins. By His stripes we are healed and the pathway to God is opened up (Isa. 53).
When you suffer, however you suffer, it is not because God doesn’t love you. It is not necessarily because God has it out for you. It is because in this world, we aren’t exactly in God’s presence. He has prepared a place for you, where you no longer have to suffer. All you have to do is follow Jesus. -WTK
Grinnell church of Christ
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When Bad Things Happen to Good People
Volume 6 Issue 25