Hot Topic #4: When Bad Things Happen to Good People

Here is one for the ages! In almost any spiritual conversation I have (especially with non-religious people) it is this question (in some form) that comes to the fore… Why do bad things happen to good people? And really… is that not a fair question? If God is the loving, kind and fair God that Christian people like to say He is, wouldn’t He deal more equitably with people?

My favorite book on the topic is Rabbi Harold Kushner’s When Bad Things Happen to Good People. I like it for three main reasons: one, it doesn’t try to answer all of the questions; two, it deals fairly with God; and three, it is written from a personal experience instead of an academic one.

There are no one-size-fits-all answers for this kind of thing. They don’t teach you how to react to this in seminary (or anywhere else for that matter) and for good reason. There are no easy answers to these kinds of questions. One of the most frustrating aspects of this discussion also happens to be my answer. At the end of it all it’s about control. Who’s in charge? I want so desperately to be, but I know that ultimately I am not… and cannot… and truthfully… should not be.

I write from a firsthand perspective. Ten years ago this past January we buried our first son, Nathan. Without a doubt that was the darkest time of my life. I remember my initial reaction was extreme anger at God for taking my son. Here we were giving everything we had for “the cause” and God allows our son to die. We were serving at a Christian college making almost enough money to put food on the table and gas in the car. This made no sense.

One of my best friends has been plagued with seizures and it has affected his life in significant ways (that’s him and me on the left)… why? He’s a good person. He loves God and is doing his best to follow Christ. How is that fair?

So where/how does a person find any sense of comfort in these kinds of situations? Why do bad things happen to good people? You have to trust God. Trust that He is working it out (like it says in Romans & Philippians). Trust that all those parts you cannot see are being seen to by the all-knowing One who created not only you, but the entire universe as well. There are questions that I will never find sufficient answers for in this lifetime… questions I will take with me to Eternity. Until that day I must find rest in knowing that the answers may not be mine this side of heaven. I can find peace in knowing that a good God is watching over everything and even when it feels like I cannot handle another piece of bad news, He is true to His word that He will not give me more than I can handle.

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