Why do bad things happen to good people?
This is probably one of the most difficult, faith-testing questions there are.
As a pastor I have had the privilege of connecting with all sorts of people around issues of faith. And, I can honestly say, this single issue more than any other, has been responsible for people losing faith and walking away from a relationship with God. The doubt, the despair, and the conviction that there cannot possibly be a God who would let this terrible thing happen (or if there is… its not the kind of God we want or need) all work together to destroy people’s faith and hope.
For those of us who don’t walk away when bad things happen, we look for assurance from God… we need to know that God is still in control. This leads to some conclusions that, while comforting in some ways, are not true to the person and nature of God.
We comfort ourselves with the conviction that God has a REASON for everything… even the most senseless of tragedies. This line of reason goes like this: God makes bad things happen in order to do a greater good. But, think about that for a minute, what all-powerful God needs to usher in tragedy and suffering in order to accomplish something good or great?
Some people even use the following Scripture as a proof for this line of reasoning:
We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)
Other variations on this Scripture explicitly add: ‘God makes all things work together’ or ‘in all things God works for good’. Whatever variation you use, the conclusion is the same: God works all things for good.
But this DOES NOT mean that God CREATES bad things and suffering in order that good can come out of it!
Instead, it DOES mean that God forces the bad things and suffering (that exist in the world) to somehow, someway bring forth good. God makes broken things beautiful.
Evil, bad things, suffering, and tragedies all exist in the world… but not because God creates them. Rather, it is the result of two things. First, and most importantly, human beings use their free will to harm themselves and others (on purpose and by accident) This is done both in terms of individual relationships, and the social/political/economic structures we create and live under. Second, because of that misuse of free will, we read in Genesis 3, humankind has lost God’s original protection and blessing within creation. In the absence of that, we live and struggle to survive in a hostile environment in which there is disaster and pain.
Still, there is God's promise of assurance, our Scripture again: We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28).
God continues to work in the lives of those who love God and are living to fulfill God’s purpose. When bad things happen… God suffers right along with us. But, this all-powerful God has the passion and compassion to force good from even the worst circumstances… making broken things beautiful.