Why do bad things happen to good people?
“Your Father in heaven . . . causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matthew 5:45)
“Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children… No hardship seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:7 & 11).
The focus during Chapel throughout Term 3 continues along the theme of addressing some of the probing questions put forward by the students from back in Term 1. The responses to such questions are never designed to be definitive or indisputable, particularly because the truth is only found when one decides to search for themselves.
There’s no doubt that the presence of evil, the reality of hardships and the finality of our lives can be complicated and confronting, especially when it relates to us personally. When we experience the hardships of illness, loss of someone we love or being disadvantaged by an event out of our control, we may wonder why God would allow such things to happen, especially to ‘good people’. It often makes no sense to us and brings into question how a loving, all powerful God would not choose to intervene, and for some reason allowing bad to exist.
It’s worth considering a few key points in an effort to seek some answers to probing questions such as this;
- Our perspective on what is ‘good’.
- What value we place on eternity.
- The purpose of hardship.
When Jesus was approached by a man, in Mark 10, who wanted to enquire what he needed to do to inherit eternal life, this man addressed Jesus as ‘Good Teacher’, to which Jesus replied ‘…only God is good…’ It is natural to make a judgement as to who is good and who isn’t, yet in God’s eyes no one is good by His standards. This may help change our perspective on the judgements we make, where ‘good’ and what encompasses the term ‘good people’ remains subjective; ‘…the same Sun rises on the evil and the good.’
Another thought is in regards to our view on eternity. If we believe the total of our existence is defined by the parameters of birth and death, then bad things become a whole lot more significant because they are a detriment to our brief tenure. Yet when the parameters of our life have no limits, trouble and hardship become momentary setbacks that will ultimately pass. Jesus himself faced the ultimate hardship in being nailed to the cross, yet with His focus being firmly fixed on rising from the dead, He endured the pain with the strength to know that it was fleeting.
Finally, the purpose of hardship, according to the Hebrews 12 verse above, serves as a discipline that is designed to train us, ‘producing a harvest of righteousness and peace’. We value the likes of patience, determination and courage, yet without hardship, such values wouldn’t exist. Harnessing challenging times strengthens us and produces a tenacity and resilience that enables us to overcome hardships, making us stronger people.
Rev Geordie Barham