How should we respond when bad things happen to good people?
IT’S WORTH CONSIDERING
The question Why do Bad Things Happen to Good People? has probably been around as long as there have been people. Deep inside us is a sense of justice that is questioned when people are not rewarded as we think they should be. Why was Jim Elliot killed by the very people he sacrificed so much to bring to a knowledge of the Savior? Why do planes carrying much needed food to starving people crash? The list of reasonable questions is endless. The whole issue is a real stumbling block for a lot of people who are searching for meaning in life. I’m not going to attempt to provide the answer that will once and for all put this issue to rest. I will, however, try to shed some light on it, concluding with a verse that few of us have seriously considered as an answer.
Here are some of the obvious answers:
1. We live in a fallen world. The ravages of sin are everywhere. Before sin entered the picture through the disobedience of Adam and Eve, life was perfect. Only good things happened-perfect weather, perfect health, perfect relationships.
2. We are at war. Satan, our enemy, is busy plotting and attacking those who are God’s. If there is a chink in our spiritual armor, he will find it, attacking where we are most vulnerable.
3. The Bible reminds us that God causes both the sun and the rain to fall on both the righteous and the wicked.
AS I SEE IT
Most of us understand and accept these three explanations, but they still leave a void. They don’t settle the matter. We need something else we can sink our teeth into. Deep down, we need to be reassured that God is at work when “unjust” things happen. We need to know that what just happened is somehow part of God’s plan.
Some of my recent articles have attempted to do just that (No Pain, No Gain and How to Pray for Persecuted Believers). Today, however, I’d like to focus on another angle-another verse that introduces a new concept. The light went on for me during a recent study of Daniel. Chapter Three recounts the story of Daniel’s three friends who were thrown into the furnace for remaining faithful to their God and refusing to bow down to the golden image Nebuchadnezzar had set up-a perfect example of bad things happening to good people. Here’s the verse that gave me a new perspective:
Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentile, but also to those who are unreasonable. For this finds favor if for the sake of conscience toward God a man bears up under when suffering unjustly. For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it, this finds favor with God. For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps…(1 Peter 2:18-20).
Let the message of these verses sink in and it will revolutionize our attitude toward “suffering unjustly.” No one has ever suffered as unjustly as our Lord Jesus, and He did it as an example to us. It’s part of the brokenness process we all have to go through in order to get the “us” out of us so that Christ can reign in our place. Even Jesus had to learn obedience by the things that He suffered (unjustly) (Hebrews 5:8). How could it be any different for us?
ON THE LIGHTER SIDE
When a man marries a woman, they become one; the trouble starts when they try to decide which one.