- Living Word Church Family,
Sometimes I get asked question: “Why does God allow bad things to happen?” This is a fair question and one that gets asked often. A couple of things to keep in mind as we go into this question:
- Sometimes when bad things happen, it isn’t anyone’s “fault,” but the result of living in a broken world
Let me illustrate this by telling a story: My little boy is running in the park and trips and falls. In doing so, he scraps his knee. In his pain and confusion, he looks up at his dad and I rush to his side to help him. I pick him up, I take him home, comfort him, and I put a Band-Aid on his boo-boo. Now, was the pain that he felt his fault? No. Was it his dad’s fault? No. In my son’s pain and confusion, he doesn’t point his finger at me and ask why this happened, but looks to me as the dad to help bring good into the circumstance, to comfort, and to heal.
Examples of bad things that happen that fit into this category would be when a loved one gets “cancer” or when someone “breaks a bone.” These things don’t necessarily happen because God is wanting to bring them about. They happen because we live in a broken world. People get sick. People get older and our bodies decay. Is that God’s fault? No.
However, God’s desire is that we wouldn’t have to live in that environment. He created a place for us to live in harmony with him that was perfect. Nothing broke. No one got hurt. Nothing died. But, mankind rejected God’s perfect plan and decided to do their own thing and a broken world has plagued us ever since.
But, God is resilient. He is not content to let us live in a situation like this. His desire is for a reunited relationship where we will once again dwell with Him forever in perfection, where nothing breaks, no one dies, and there is no more pain. And God’s promise is that He is preparing that place for us in heaven for all who would want to go.
- Sometimes, what may seem “bad” for one person is “good” for another.Again, let me illustrate this: One person is planning an outdoor wedding and it rains…they are devastated. They had been waiting their whole life for this moment and now it was ruined. However, at the same moment, hundreds of farmers in the community are rejoicing, because their crops were in desperate need of rain and without it, their crops would fail, and some of them would perhaps lose their farms and livelihood because of the failure to bring in an income through the sale of their harvest. So was the rain “inherently bad?” No. The effect of the rain is seen as “bad” from a certain point of view and “good” from another
- Sometimes, we foster environments where something “bad” may occurSometimes, we can be easily turned off by something “bad” that has happened to us, but it is simply a result of the environment that we have chosen to partake of. An example of this would be when one sports team wins over another sports team. Maybe both teams even have Christians on them and both team members are praying for a win. At a moment of loss, perhaps some of the teammates respond by saying: “Doesn’t God notice or care?” “I thought He loved me.”Such things, while seemingly “bad,” are part of the system of life that we have chosen to partake in. In a life system where there is competition, people aren’t going to win at everything, always get the best jobs, or make the most money. And so, losing a sports game or not making it to the next level of employment at work shouldn’t be things that we hold against God as His wrongdoing. These events are part of the system we live in. We apply for jobs competitively. We play sports competitivel
I make these points because sometimes we are quick to assert blame or label things as “bad” or “evil” and perhaps we need to evaluate the situation that we are referring to. Sometimes those things happen because of the broken world we live in and sometimes because it’s a natural system of life.
However, I recognize that there are times when horribly wrong and grievous things take place. Someone is murdered. A plane flies into a tower and thousands of people die. Why would God allow those types of things to happen. There are a number of answers to that question:
- Sometimes “bad” things happen because God is punishing sinThere are a number of times in the Bible where someone does something in rebellion to God and something “bad” happens as a consequence. An example of this would be the death of Annaias and Sapphira in Acts 5:1-10.While this is a plausible explanation, I would hesitate to assign this as a cause for all things or to assume this as the necessary cause. However, when something “bad happens” it is fair to stop and ask if there is sin present that needs to be repented of.
- Sometimes “bad” things happen because people stand in active rebellion to the will of God.When God created the world, He created us to be in relationship with Him—to be objects of His love. In do so, He could have done one of two things: (1) He could have created us all like robots who would always do exactly what He said all the time or (2) He could have created us with the ability to interact with those around us and to rebel against Him or not. Now, if someone loves you just because they are forced to do so, that isn’t a very good relationship. We want people to love us because they do, not because they have to. God wants the same thing as well. He wants people to choose to love Him, not be forced to like robots. Therefore, God created us with the ability to rebel. The problem with this is that it then allows people to have the freedom to not choose God or neglect the things that God wants / desires.
So, when someone exercises their will to do something evil, such as kill someone else, they are doing something that is perversely against the will of God. Since we live in a world with other “free” creatures, sometimes we receive the blessing of that (like when someone says something nice to us or gives us a gift) and sometimes we receive the hardships of that (like when someone steals something of ours or says something mean).
- Sometimes “bad” things happen because God is testing us
I would be cautious to quickly jump to this as the first option as, but I know that this happens.
For example, we see a biblical example of this with Hezekiah. 2 Chronicles 32:31 states: And so in the matter of the envoys of the princes of Babylon, who had been sent to him to inquire about the sign that had been done in the land, God left him to himself, in order to test him and to know all that was in his heart.
Another example of this would be the story of Job. God allows for Satan to take everything away from Job to prove a point: Job would still follow God even amidst the hardship. It was a proof of Job’s character.
- Sometimes we don’t always know why “bad” things happenThis is where I find myself most often, in the camp of the unknown. If I’m honest, I don’t always know why bad things take place. Maybe it’s for one of the above reasons, maybe it’s for a different purpose altogether. However, I take great comfort in what I know the answer can’t be. It can’t be that God doesn’t love me. Because when I look to the cross, I see what God’s attitude is toward me. It says, “I love you. I would die for you. I would go through pain and grief and suffering so that you might be saved.” This is no new thing, but is the clear testimony of John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
From the Pastor’s Desk