“And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him and led him away to crucify him.” Matthew 27:31 ESV
Picture this: you’re talking to a friend, trying to lead them to walk with the Lord, and you’re pretty confident with what you’re saying. You’ve made it through the conversation so far being able to answer most of their questions to their satisfaction. Then they hit you with “Why do bad things happen to good people?”.
I’ve mentioned InterVarsity Large Group a few times – it’s our fellowship on campus, and we meet weekly. A few meetings ago, we hosted a panel discussion with 3 adults involved in ministry in some way, and a student from our group. They were asked questions we had all written down the previous week, as well as questions brought up that evening. Well, you’d be crazy to think that the suffering question wouldn’t come up. So, like clockwork, our host read off “Why do bad things happen to good people?” and a collective groan came from the crowd.
It’s one of those questions we hear all the time when trying to talk to non-Christians about following God. Sometimes it’s out of genuine curiosity, sometimes, out of some sort of personal feeling that God somehow targeted them or someone close to them.
Regardless of the intent of the question, it’s still something we should all be passionate about learning more about, for our own understanding, and to be able to answer other people to the best of our ability.
I find that pretty often, this question is brought on by people’s misunderstanding of the word “good”. Let’s address this ASAP: there was only ONE good person….Can you guess who it was?
If you guessed Jesus, you’re absolutely right!
We are a broken people, living in a broken world. We are “by nature sinful and unclean”, we “sin against [God] in our thoughts, words, and actions”. We are tempted, jealous, immodest, rude, impatient. It’s natural. But God didn’t intend it to be that way.
I think the real question is, “Why do good things happen to bad people?”.
God’s grace is beyond comprehension. There is evil in our world, and we do suffer. Bad things happen. But Jesus came to this earth, fully human, and took on the death we rightly deserve on a cross in order to redeem our bad experiences. He came to minister to us while we experience pain and suffering.
He is constantly working for us and in us, even when we don’t notice it – working for our good. I think it’s so amazing to think that such a big, great, amazing, wonderful, awesome God would choose to take care of us. A broken, unworthy people.
“…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus…” Romans 3:23-24 ESV
How would you answer this question to those who ask you?