We all know people who have suffered chronic diseases or experienced bad things in this world. We don’t always understand why God has never healed them or seemed to help them even though we have prayed and prayed. If people are good, why does He allow bad things to happen in the first place?
Why do bad things happen to good people? Bad things happen to people because sin has pervaded every inch of the earth. Due to the fall of man, we are not good people and are deserving of God’s wrath. We also have an enemy, Satan, who is trying to destroy our lives because he hates that we are made in the image of God. God also uses bad things to show us that He is always with us. He has a purpose for suffering and wants to show us how we desperately need Him in every area of our lives.
Let us dive deeper into this question and see what the Bible says about why bad things happen to good people and the hope God has given us while suffering.
In the video, Kenneth Freire and Kenneth Ortiz talk about how two different areas need to be addressed when answering the question, why do bad things happen to good people?
The first area they address is a theological discussion which gives three main points about how the Bible answers this question. The second area is a pastoral conversation that discusses how to use our Biblical knowledge for discipling others through bad things.
The Pervasiveness of Sin: The Fall of Man
Bad things happen to people because of sin.
In Genesis 3:1-7, we learn about the fall of the human race. It explains that sin entered the world because human beings failed in trusting God’s best for them.
When Adam and Eve took and ate the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, their eyes were opened to their nakedness and sin entered into the world.
Sin is pervasive. It is all around us and has corrupted everything on earth. Sometimes the things we experience in this world is simply because evil exists and sin is rampant to destroy good.
Wars, political conflicts, natural disasters, and viruses such as COVID-19 are a result of sin. Everything bad that happens to us is because of sin.
Sometimes bad things are a result of our own personal sin. Other times, it because someone else sinned and caused pain in our lives.
In these circumstances, we may get angry at God for the bad thing that has happened to us. However, we need to recognize that bad things are a consequence of sin.
Are There Good People?
As it is written: ‘There is none righteous, no, not one; there is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; they have together become unprofitable; there is none who does good, no, not one.'”Romans 3:10-12 NKJV
Because of the fall of man and sin pervading the world, human beings are neither innocent nor good. Even those whom we think are the best Christians are not worthy of being called good.
Bad things happen to us because we’re bad. Spiritually, we are dead and devoid of all life because we were all born with a sinful nature and we all have sinned against God.
We are worse than we realize. We deserve the wrath of God. Anything we do outside of faith in God is sin. There is nothing good in us.
You and I may not like hearing that, but the truth is that because sin entered the world, all things were corrupted by sin. What we deserve is to be in hell. Everything short of hell that we receive in this life on earth is grace.
This life on earth is the closest a believer in Jesus Christ will get to hell. But for an unbeliever, if they do not receive Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior, this is the closest to heaven they will ever get.Phil Hopper, Pastor of Abundant Life Church
Moment by moment, we all fall short of God’s standard of holiness. No one is good but God. God alone is perfect and holy.
We can never meet the perfect standard of God on our own, which is why we need Jesus. There is none who can compare with Him.
Why do bad things happen to good people? That only happened once, and He volunteered.R.C. Sproul Jr.
Jesus is the only good and perfect human who ever lived on this earth and something terrible happened to Him. He suffered the entirety of God’s wrath on the world and did it willingly for our sakes so that we may know Him personally. This is the message of the cross.
Why Do Good Things Happen To Bad People?
We put too much emphasis on “why do bad things happen to good people,” when we need to see ourselves for what we truly are. The better question we should be asking is, “why do good things happen to bad people?”
In other words, because we are so corrupted by sin, why do we receive anything good?
The answer is this:
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.Romans 5:8 NKJV
We receive good things only because God is gracious towards us through His Son, Jesus, who has given us life abundantly through His death and resurrection so that we may be freed from sin forever.
The good thing that God gives us is Himself. Through faith in Christ, we can receive the Holy Spirit. As we experience bad things as a result of sin, we need to remember that God has given us the Holy Spirit to be with us and walk alongside us to help us overcome evil.
You might be trying as hard as you can to live a good life. You are a follower of Jesus and you’re trying to do the things that God has commanded you to do—love God and love people. But that means that you have a massive target on your back.
We have an enemy who wants you to suffer. If you are a believer and follower of Jesus Christ, our enemy, Satan, is going to try to do everything within his power to make life miserable for you.
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.1 Peter 5:8 ESV
We live in an evil world that is in the power of Satan. He hates that we are created in the image of God because we have been promised an eternal Kingdom. Daily, he tries to corrupt our thoughts and our minds, which can eventually lead to taking action and sinning against God and our fellow image-bearers.
The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.John 10:10a KNJV
When we are experiencing hard things, we need to remind ourselves that our fight is not against mankind. Satan does exist. There are real demonic satanic forces at work trying to attack us and cause ruin.
Many of the bad things that come our way is a direct result of the attack of the enemy who works in partnership with sin.
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.Ephesians 6:12
How Do We Disciple Someone Who Is Going Through Bad Things?
These three areas act as a theological framework for understanding why bad things happen to people.
Bad things happen to people because:
- Sin is pervasive and the fall of man has corrupted the world
- We are not good and our sinful actions have consequences
- We have an enemy who wants to destroy and ruin our lives
Now that you know the theological framework, you can move on into a pastoral role of helping someone understand how God uses suffering in our lives for His glory.
God uses suffering to show us that:
- He is with us
- He has a purpose
- He wants us to depend on Him
God Is With Us
One of the reasons God allows bad things to happen to people is so that you may know He is always with you.
If you’re a believer and follower of Jesus Christ and going through suffering, God is with you. If you are feeling alone and abandoned, He is with you. He has given you the Holy Spirit to dwell in you and comfort you.
He is closer to you than anyone or anything else ever could be. That is why He is called Emmanuel, God with us. He hears your voice and sees you.
You are not alone. In the darkest moments of your life, God is right there with you, guiding you and watching over you.
Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.Matthew 28:20b ESV
If you are suffering because someone sinned against you and caused bad things to happen in your life, it is not your fault. This is a result of sin in the world. We have to remember that sin is pervasive due to the fall of man.
Everything is corrupted by sin, including our relationships with fellow image-bearers.
Sometimes it may be hard to believe that God is with us as we walk through suffering. That may be how we feel, but our feelings do not define the truth.
This is why we need to constantly remind ourselves of the truth and what God promises to those who are going through hard things.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.Psalm 23:4 ESV
King David wrote the book of Psalms in the Bible. He was familiar with grief over sin and experiencing bad things. But he constantly reminded himself that God’s eyes are on the brokenhearted and that He is always with those who are suffering.
When facing an attack from Satan, we can remember that our enemy is never stronger than God. God has promised to help us stand against our enemy and has given us spiritual armor to fight against his wicked schemes.
One day he will be cast into the lake of fire and will bother us no more. When fighting against temptation and sin, remember that God is with you and that He has already won the victory.
And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly.Romans 16:20a NKJV
Jesus never promised that this life would be easy, but He does promise to be with us!
God’s Purpose For Suffering
God has a purpose in allowing all of these bad things to happen to you.
1. For God’s Glory
In the Bible, John writes a story about a man who was born blind. When Jesus’s disciples saw him, they asked Jesus if the man was blind because the man or his parent’s sinned. But Jesus said,
It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.John 9:3
Sometimes, God wants to use your suffering to show His great power and might to the world. Healing may never come in the way you expect or want it to.
But Jesus brought healing to this man so that His disciples’ faith would grow and they would go out and preach the gospel to all the world.
In this story, Jesus reveals that His purpose in coming to earth was to redeem people from the fall of man and sin and to restore humanity and creation. What if He did that through you in the lives of others?
2. Bringing Repentance
The Lord can use suffering to show us areas in our lives that we need to repent of. If you are not a believer in Christ, I would strongly urge you to put your faith in Him as your personal Lord and Savior today. Don’t go another minute without Him.
Take responsibility for your sins and put yourself into God’s hands. Repent and let go of those things that you have done.
Christ paid for all of the bad things you’ve done on the cross. When you put your faith and trust in Him, He promises to always be with you.
You will always have hope and security in knowing that He will never leave you.
If we repent from our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us of all of our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.2 Chronicles 7:14
3. Becoming A Sweet Fragrance For Christ
Bad things happen because God has a purpose in you to work through you in other people.
God is intentionally leading you on a journey where pain and suffering will come your way. Sometimes this is because you have decided to follow Jesus and the world will hate you for His name’s sake.
Sometimes your willingness to follow Jesus in spite of the bad things you experience will be a testimony to the gospel.
But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of Him everywhere.
For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life.2 Corinthians 2:14-16 ESV
To some, your story of loving Jesus through suffering will be a sweet aroma. It will bring others to faith in Christ and be a witness for the gospel.
Others, however, will ridicule you for your faith. They will not want to have anything to do with Christ. They will ask, “Why would you be willing to suffer and still love and serve Jesus when He has not healed you or when He has not answered your prayers?”
Those who do not know Christ will not always understand the things that you do. The best thing we can do is pray for God to open up their hearts and minds to accept Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior.
4. Getting Rid Of Idols
God also uses suffering to get rid of the idols in your life.
When you allow other things to preoccupy the space in your heart that is meant for God alone to dwell in, He will begin to uproot those things in your life so that you see Him for who He truly is.
It is a painful process. But God does not want to hold out on His best for you. Sometimes His best is taking away the things we want most because He wants to get our focus back on Him.
Dependency On God
Finally, God allows bad things to show you that you desperately need Him.
Suffering can do one of two things:
- It could make you run away from God, or,
- It could draw you closer to God and into a more intimate fellowship where you see what God is trying to do in your life
If you choose to allow God to work in and through you, suffering makes you depend on God even more. When you understand the concept of sin and that you aren’t a good person and that you have an enemy who is constantly attacking you, you find yourself at the feet of God.
If you grew up with Western Christianity like I have, you would agree that we have things pretty good. We often forget that we need God because our life is so comfortable and easy.
Sometimes God needs to wake us up and shake our world by bringing suffering in. This shows us to the reality of how much we need Him every moment.
But suffering will not last forever. There is hope. In the end, we have the promise that we will see Jesus face to face. Everything bad that happens to you now cannot even compare to the wonder and majesty of being with Christ for all of eternity.
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be His people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 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.”’Revelation 21:3-4 ESV