Published February 25, 2014

Paul's Epistle...
"Bad Things - Good People" (Part 4)

Today we conclude a special series dealing with the age-old question, "Why do bad things happen to good people." If you're a new subscriber, you might want to check the previous installments here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

The sixth reason that "bad" things happen to "good" people (you, for example) is that your response to suffering can bring glory to God.

That might seem like a strange "disconnect," but here's what I mean. Earlier in this series I mentioned Daniel and all he went through. Not long ago I heard Dr. David Jeremiah on the radio preaching about Daniel, and he said something to this effect: "Whenever God allows His children to face overwhelming problems, it is so that – in the solution – He may receive (and show) His glory."

When you face problems – and rely on God to get you out of those problems – God is glorified. God is glorified whenever His will is done. God is glorified whenever, no matter what happens to you, you choose to trust Him. God is glorified whenever you trust Him – rather than stubbornly trying to rely on your own failing strength.

The Message translation of 1st Peter 1:7 says it this way: "Pure gold put in the fire comes out of it proved pure; genuine faith put through this suffering comes out proved genuine. When Jesus wraps this all up, it's your faith, not your gold, that God will have on display as evidence of His victory."

See that? Your faith will be evidence of Christ's victory. You – through the faith you display – will bring glory to God!

The seventh reason that "bad" things happen to "good" people seems like the flipside of number six: Your response to suffering can bring glory to you. Eventually.

The New Living Translation renders that same verse – verse 7 – in a slightly different way: "So if you faith remains strong after being tried by fiery trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world." In this rendering, your faith – because it brings God glory – will, in turn, bring you glory, because, as verse 9 in the NLT puts it, "Your reward for trusting Him will be the salvation of your souls."

Peter talks about sharing in the "glory" of the Lord when He returns (1st Peter 5:1). You might be modestly uncomfortable thinking about "glory" coming to you. But remember that old song about heaven:

      When by His grace I shall look on His face,
      That will be glory, be glory for me.

And that's when you'll finally understand why suffering has come your way. The Talleys have a song* that talks about this:

      Here below we often question why the righteous suffer loss
      And we wonder if tomorrow's crown is worth today's cross.
      We cry out for the reasons but all the while we know
      That some things won't be answered here below.

      But up above, we'll see it clearly.
      Up above, we'll understand.
      And then we'll smile knowing every mile
      Was led by the Nail-Scarred Hand.

Peter tells us, "So if you are suffering according to God's will, keep on doing what is right and trust yourself to the God who made you, for He will never fail you" (1 Peter 4:19). And we can celebrate the truth of Romans 8:28: "...all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose."

"All things!" Not just the good stuff. With that promise, with the strength that God gives us, with the promise of help now and heaven to come, we're equipped to handle anything.

Someone asked C. S. Lewis, "Why do the righteous suffer?" "Why not?" he replied. "They're the only ones who can take it."

- Paul

*Lyrics excerpted from "Up Above," recorded by the Talleys on their "Love Won" CD, written by Rebecca Peck, Thomas Peck Music BMI. Used by permission.

PS:  I don't pretend that this study has covered all aspects of this matter – or even nearly so. It's far too complex. But all of this resolves to one basic truth: Our faith and trust in the Lord must absolutely remain strong, no matter what. We must rely on the fact that He knows what He is doing and will do what is best for each of us.

PPS:  Next week I hope to share a few of the comments readers have sent in about this series.

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