When you listen to the questions people have regarding God and life, there is one overarching question that seems to plague everyone to some degree. It came up again with my invitation for your specific questions recently.
Why do bad things happen to good people?
The answer is not nearly as difficult as it may seem. We live in a culture where every single night some person with a big smile starts the evening news by saying “Good day” and then spends the next hour telling us why it wasn’t.
Suffering is everywhere and, no matter where you look, bad things touch people’s lives. Everyone. Not just the “good people” but the “bad” as well. The first thing to keep in mind is that we are all “bad” to some degree, even the best of us (Romans 6:23). The root cause of our suffering is that we have freedom. The freedom to choose was a gift that God gave His creation from the very beginning. In order for there to be a real choice there has to be more than one option (otherwise, there is no choice).
Satan was the first to choose. He chose to rebel against God. Immediately after him came the choice of Adam and Eve to disobey and act on their own desires (freedom). Ever since that day, our choices have led us to victories, successes and accomplishments. It’s caused people to choose love, education, peace and friendship. But it has also led to hardship, poverty, bigotry, hatred and suffering. The consequences of our freedom.
As we watch tragedy touch the lives of those around us, what we are really asking is, “Why doesn’t God do something about all of this?” There are two levels to answer that question. Specifically, God’s infinite wisdom determines whether He needs to intervene in each instant with a miracle or allow the suffering to happen. To do a miracle brings Him glory. To allow suffering can bring correction, discipline or even more glory through the circumstances that follow. In my case, God could have absolutely stopped the accident before it happened. But His wisdom allowed Him to see how Sarah and Josh’s death could spin off into greater good for a whole lot of people…and bring Him tremendous glory.
Speaking on much broader terms, God did do something. He sent His Son to die to rescue us from the suffering. You can’t do much more than that!
Here’s a simplified illustration to answer your question. If you chose to build your house on the interstate, you would expect that you would eventually get hit by a car. As long as you and I live on this planet–with real people who have real freedom and real choices–there is a great potential that you will be touched by something bad. The choice that follows is our reaction to the tragedy. The potential outcome sends ripples across generations.
Thanks for the questions. This is the last one I had received to this point. If you have more, please send them. Nothing is out of bounds.