One of the hardest things to understand in life is why do bad things happen to good people. Have we as an individual, or in the case of natural disasters we as a community, committed some horrific act that the universe is getting even with us for? Have we not been faithful enough in our relationship with God? What exactly have we done to bring this bad situation or event upon ourselves? Many people smarter than me have tried to answer this question and I certainly do not have any better answer than they do. But I am going to share my opinion on the subject.
Some people who I know who don’t believe in God use the reason that if God was all powerful and knowing he would be able to prevent these terrible things from happening to his believers. As wonderful as it would be for that to be true, I have not seen anything anywhere that promises those who follow God that they would never have anything bad happen to them. Life happens to us all, believers and non-believers alike. I am going to share three trains of thought that occur to me when I consider this topic.
First – I believe that this is much like the free will option God provided us. It would of been very easy for God to not have given us free will to begin with. Everyone would believe and be faithful and there would be no sin in the world. Wouldn’t that be a great place? But without free will, would believing and being faithful mean as much to God? If you are a parent think about your children. It’s great when your child listens to you and does the right thing when you are there and they know you are watching. But isn’t a much greater sense of pride and accomplishment if they don’t know you are around and you overhear them or see them doing the right thing because they know it’s the right thing? It means more when you have the free will to choose and choose to believe. Much as is the same with free will, if bad things never happened to those who believed and only to those who did not then everyone would believe. People would believe because of the immediate impact and benefit to them of avoiding those bad things and not necessarily because they believe in God and the Bible overall.
Second – I think we can all agree that tough times and situations are what allow us to grow more than when times are easy going. Sort of like the adage what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger. Think along the lines of exercise or any other discipline you may take up or try to learn. If you are happy with where you are at the moment and never try to push yourself to go further than you never make it further. Is it always fun and easy? No. But you grow more and accomplish more by pushing yourself through those difficult extra steps. Bad things happening can also show you just how strong you are and how many resources you have around you who really are there to help you. It’s easy for friends to say they will be there for you in the easy times. But when times get tough that’s when you can truly find out how strong your friends are. So bad things happening can be a way for God to push you to grow in ways we may not otherwise grow as well as being able to see how strong we are and how great the community of people we rely on can be.
Finally – I believe all things happen for a reason and are a part of God’s overall plan. For example, when my wife and I first met we were in a pretty serious car accident. We were hit head on by a car on a country road when a driver was not paying attention and could not stop in time for a car stopping to pull into a driveway. The driver swerved to avoid the car and hit us head on. We both shattered our femurs and my wife had a lot more serious injuries beyond that. We both had to have rods implanted in our femur. I was off work for 3 months, she was off work for over a year. We had no income and very little savings since we hadn’t been living on our own for very long. At the immediate time I had no clue what good could come such a scenario. But looking back on it over time, we got to spend 3 months cooped up in the house together. It was winter so there were a couple snow storms we didn’t have to worry about fighting. We just stayed in, watched movies, and cuddled together. To this day we still look back on those three months and envy the fact that we had three months of nowhere to go, except the occasional doctor appointment or when family would come take up to the grocery, and got to spend so much time together. Does that mean I know the reason for all bad things happening? Do I know how to say the death of someone is for the best and part of an overall plan, especially a young child? No. And that is okay. I know that God is in control. I can look back on so many situations like the one above and see how over time they turned into blessings.
So there are three trains of thoughts that occur to me on the subject when I contemplate it. It’s not anything new and earth shattering, but it at least makes sense to me!