Published February 4, 2014

Paul's Epistle...
"Bad Things - Good People" (Part 1)

Why do bad things happen to good people?  That's a very common question – you hear it all the time.

Last year I received an email from a reader of this newsletter that expressed the frustration embodied in that question: "I'm witnessing to a friend and his whole thing is that if there is a loving God, why is there so much suffering and pain? Why doesn't He just end it if He is so powerful? I can't trust a God like that."

Some years ago, CBN commissioned the Gallup polling organization to find out – if given the opportunity to do so in person – what question Americans would ask God. When the results were tabulated, the number one question was, "Why is there suffering in the world?"

A Christian movie that's currently out is called "Unstoppable." Created by actor/producer Kirk Cameron, it's the story of a friend of his whose son had died of a terminal illness. Cameron asks the question most would ask – "Where is the good in this?" In his words, "...when your whole world comes crashing down on you, the questions start: ‘Where is God when I need Him most? Why do bad things happen to good people?'"

First, for perspective, we must remember that when God created the world, He declared it "perfect." "Very good!" But the only time there was no pain and suffering in the world was before Adam and Eve sinned. As soon as sin came into the world, suffering came into the world. And as long as this age continues, suffering will remain with us.

Sin brought the suffering. Sin brought the curse. God told Adam, "Cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee..." (Gen. 3:17b-18). Because of this, we do, as a race, suffer what Shakespeare (in Hamlet) called, "the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune..." and "the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to..."

Did bad things happen to people in the Bible? Of course. Job is considered the oldest book in the Bible. And Job himself is a great example of something bad – very bad – happening to someone God Himself had called a "very good man." Job was very rich with a great family. But Satan sought and got permission to harm him (but not kill him). Job did, in fact, lose everything but his life. But Job eventually passed the test. His faith endured. Job said about the Lord, "Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him..." (Job 13:15).

By the way, the story of Job reminds us that God will not permit us to suffer more than we can bear. And that reminds me of what Paul says in 1st Cor. 10:13 about temptation: "No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able..."

Remember Daniel? He was a "good" man whose faith was in God. But he was thrown into prison on phony charges. Much later, when he made clear his choice to worship God rather than the king, Daniel was thrown into the lion's den to be consumed. A bad thing? Absolutely! But Daniel's faith was strong. Daniel 6:10 tells us Daniel continued to pray only to God – thanking Him for all things. The lions were growling, their stomachs were growling, but they never touched Daniel. God protected him. And Daniel came out even stronger in his faith than when all these bad things started happening to him.

Remember Abraham? He was tested in the most direct way. God, in effect, said to him, "Who do you love more – Me....or your son, Isaac?" Abraham had enough faith to pass the test, and God stopped him from harming his son – as, I think, Abraham expected.

Remember Joseph? He was sold into slavery – not a good thing. But he had faith. And look what God did with His life in Egypt.

Speaking of faith, Hebrews 11 is called the "Hall of Fame of the Faithful." Someone observed that everyone on that list – from Abel through Moses and others – suffered in some way for their faith. And yet their faith endured – and is, in fact, celebrated to this day.

So, why do "bad things" happen to us today?

Next week, we'll look at the first of seven reasons why, even today, "bad things happen to good people."

- Paul

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