By Rev. Jacob Quast
What’s Up With That?
Why do bad things happen to good people?
This question is one which, as a parish pastor for almost eight years, I’ve heard many, many times.
It seems so wrong—so unfair.
Why do good people like Aunt Margaret and Grandpa Joe get cancer, whereas the murderer in jail is healthy as a horse. It doesn’t seem to make any sense at all.
Outside of Holy Scripture, that is.
You see, God’s Word, the Holy Bible, has much to say on this subject—although what it has to say is not always what we want to hear. In Romans 3:23, for instance, we learn that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
Sin is that which misses the mark of God’s perfect and holy law. That means that we do not live our lives as God wants us to—in love towards Him and our neighbour.
His law requires not that we simply be pretty good, but perfect—in every way.
When we carefully examine our lives in light of God’s clear law in the Scriptures, we see, indeed, how far we truly have fallen.
What’s more, man’s sin—that original rebellion in the Garden of Eden—not only has left humanity in a state of corruption, but also the entire creation, as well. Therefore, because of this brokenness that has so drastically affected God’s original and perfectly-good creation, we now have things like weeds, disease, pain, suffering, and even death.
Everything—from cancer to natural disasters like earthquakes to thorns and thistles—is a result of sin in the world. Unfortunately, this means for us that bad things do happen—to everyone at times—no matter if one is “good” or “bad”, a faithful Christian or an unbeliever.
Due to our sin, we all are subject to the consequences of sin this side of Heaven.
Another question that might be asked is: “Why do good things happen to bad people?” Why does the jerk down the street win the lottery? Why does the nasty person in the office wind up getting the promotion at work?
Well, the Bible also says that God “makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matthew 5:45)
In other words, God’s material blessings flow to all people, no matter what background, religion, etc. He is benevolent toward everyone.
However, the greatest blessings He has to give are those that are received by faith. Faith in Jesus Christ gives the believer the full and free forgiveness of all sins, salvation from the powers of the devil, and life everlasting.
These blessings He longs to give to all people, but they only may be received properly by faith in Jesus.
Those who cling to Him as their only Saviour, and trust in His vicarious death and resurrection for their salvation, will be saved.
So, when we look at world events from this perspective, we can see that God is at work no matter what happens. We should be content with whatever God gives us—knowing that in Jesus, He has given us all that we truly need: forgiveness for all sins and the promise of eternal life in Heaven with Him.
Bad things happen to us, to our loved ones, to perfect strangers. Oftentimes it makes no sense to us.
But when we look at God’s Word, we see that “for those who love God all things work together for good” and “that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” (Romans 8:28, 18)
God has promised you that because of His Son, Jesus, He will give you Heaven and life. What more could we possibly ask for?
But there is the rub, isn’t there? We do want more.
We want what we think we deserve and demand that God should give it to us.
Therefore, we get angry and frustrated with God when He does not do what we want Him to, such as grant us healing or a better job or home.
To make things worse, when we are afflicted with something, we may begin to feel as though He has abandoned us or turned His back on us.
When this happens, we must look to His word to reassure us of how He truly feels about us. For “God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
Now, we may be called upon to suffer—sometimes horribly so. Indeed, believers, like everyone else in this sin-filled and broken world, may be hurt, get sick, and die.
Yet the hope for the faithful is not in the things or the pleasures of this world and life, but in the life of the world to come. Where God promises us that in Heaven, “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 [will] have passed away.” (Revelation 21:4)
Therefore, we rejoice in the Good News that Jesus has come to die for us and take away our sin. Although bad things do happen, in Christ, who came to take all the evil and sin in the world and crucify it in His own flesh on the cross of Calvary, we have been promised an everlasting good.
He is our one true hope and peace in all things.
So that’s “What’s up with that.”
In an effort to make this a somewhat regular addition to our local newspaper, if you have any questions or comments about this or any other topic and would like a pastor’s response, feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I look forward to hearing from you.
Rev. J. Quast is pastor of the Church of the Lutheran Hour and author of “Angels: What You Should Know About These Divine Messengers (both the good and the bad).”