Why do Bad Things Happen to Good People?
By John W. Milor
††††††††††† Why do bad things happen to good people? To begin with, this question would be thrown out if it were on a test, because it is internally inconsistent. People on their own, without Godís spirit in their hearts, are not good, not even one of them. Consider Jesusí words in Mark 10:18.
††††††††††† Mark 10:18
And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God.
††††††††††† But to get past this initial hurtle, letís suggest that the people in question have accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior. We can, at this point, say that these people are good, because at their core, so long as they are spirit led according to Romans 8:1, they are good.
There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
††††††††††† Returning to the original question, why do bad things happen to good people, even spirit led peopleĖsuch as Jesus Christ Himself? How can a perfectly good God create such an environment as Earth, where so much evil is permitted, and Godís good people are subjected to that evil?
††††††††††† I have addressed the answer to this question in the past, by explaining the nature of love, and freewill. In short, God is love, as it states in 1 John 4:16 and love requires freewill in order to be expressed. Therefore if Godís children are to love Him, they must be given an opportunity to disobey Him, at least for a season, because love requires the freedom of choice in order to be expressed. So all our lives on this Earth during this time are meant for one reason and one reason only: to choose to love God. And all the evil in the world stems from one thing only: freewill being used to not love God, but rather to love self and others before the love of God.
1 John 4:16
And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.
††††††††††† There is more to the answer of this question, however. In the book of Job, we read that Job asked the above question as well. In fact, Job directly stated in gut wrenching, brutally honest words, his complete frustration, confusion, and sorrow, over what he believed was God personally destroying him, though he believed he did nothing wrong to deserve it.
Though I am in the right, I cannot answer him; I must appeal for mercy to my accuser. If I summoned him and he answered me, I would not believe that he was listening to my voice. For he crushes me with a tempest and multiplies my wounds without cause; he will not let me get my breath, but fills me with bitterness. If it is a contest of strength, behold, he is mighty! If it is a matter of justice, who can summon him? Though I am in the right, my own mouth would condemn me; though I am blameless, he would prove me perverse. I am blameless; I regard not myself; I loathe my life. It is all one; therefore I say, He destroys both the blameless and the wicked. When disaster brings sudden death, he mocks at the calamity of the innocent.
Was Job right? Partially, in a sense, but not really, if we understand Godís nature, and had the mind of God to comprehend why He does what He does. Was that clear?
It was Satan who was hurting Job, but God was the one who allowed Satan to attack him, so in an indirect sense, God was ultimately responsible for Jobís calamity. I donít claim to understand how God uses Satan, sometimes probably even without Satan being aware of it, much to his dismay, but God does appear to use Satan. And God allows Satan to do some horrible things. Why?
One small thing I do understand about Satan is the fact that he represents the element of freewill gone wrong; the choice away from the love of God that all agents of freewill must face. Since this wrong choice has been made, God may very well be using it as an eternal object lesson about what happens when the wrong choice is made. All that can result from the wrong choice is being played out for all to see and learn from, and the truth of Godís ways contrasted with the ways of Satan is being proved through everyoneís experiences every day.
The medium Satan chooses, the timing, his tools, all vary, and they are all tailored to each individual, but the choice is always the same. Do we choose Godís way, or some other way? Do we obey God, or do we do things our own way, and rationalize our disobedience in a maze of mental gymnastics, twisting what God said, twisting Godís personality and motives, and even questioning His existence?
Satanís battleground is the human mind, but all his manipulative conniving is conducted in strict accordance with Godís defining limits, whether Satan is even aware of it or not. In Jobís case, Satan was well aware of his limits, and he stuck to the rules, though Iím not convinced this is always the case with every satanic attack. Demons break the rules all the time, but what happens when they overstep their bounds? God intervenes and sets things strait. This is what spiritual warfare is all about. Spiritual warfare may seem like a chaotic mess, with angels and devils duking it out and God having to fight to regain control, but this is far from the truth; God determines the outcomes of all such battles before they are ever fought. In most cases, the determining factor in said battles boils down to the sort of choices we are making: where we are allowing Satan to have authority in our lives? If our choices are spirit led, then Satan usually has no authority in our lives. In Jobís case, however, the reason God allowed Satan to inflict so much harm on Him is the mystery at hand. Job was a righteous man. This is what I personally donít fully understand, but do I have to understand?
In short, Godís ways are perfect and just, as we shall all see on Judgment Day, but what are we to do today, with our perceived misconceptions about God being unjust? Iíve known a great many non-Christians stumble over this question, using it to justify their lack of faith. What information did God pass on to Job can we learn from?
Iíve heard it said that God never answered Jobís questions. Instead, God showed up and asked Job a series of unanswerable questions, and Job ended up repenting at the end of Godís speech. But if one reads Godís questions carefully, they are, in fact, answers to Jobís quandary.
In Job 38:4, God asks, ďWhere were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding.Ē
This question addresses Jobís temporal limitations. How is it that God can exist independent of time? Iíve pondered this myself. Trying to figure out Godís timeless nature is like trying to round off eternity. The greatest minds of our day, physicists of the highest caliber, wrestle with this very question. In fact, God is the central theme of most advanced physics today. Mathematicians and physicists deep in thought, swimming in quagmires of calculations, speaking of quantum singularities, the uncertainty principle, string theory and the like, contemplate Godís eternal nature into the wee hours of the morning all their lives. Are any of these people any closer to understanding Godís timeless quality? I donít think so.
In Job 38:12, God speaks of His power over solar regulation. ďHave you commanded the morning since your days began, and caused the dawn to know its place?Ē This question points out Jobís limited power. Obviously Job can only move objects his small little human body can move; far from the numberless celestial sphereís under Godís command.
††††††††††† Going further, God asks in Job 38:19-20, ďWhere is the way to the dwelling of light, and where is the place of darkness, that you may take it to its territory and that you may discern the paths to its home?Ē
Is God talking about photons and dark matter? Or is He talking about another dimension; the place of His throne? Or could He be talking about truth? Maybe Heís talking about Himself; His substance?
According to 1 John 1:15, God is light, and in Him is no darkness; in Revelation 22:5, Godís throne will be established on Earth, and the whole Earth will be filled with light because of it, yet on the other hand, Exodus 20:21 states that God covered Himself in thick darkness when He spoke with Moses. Why did He do that if Heís light?
††††††††††† 1 John 1:5
This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.
††††††††††† Revelation 22:5
And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.
††††††††††† Exodus 20:21
And the people stood afar off, and Moses drew near unto the thick darkness where God was.
What is it with these mysterious things, darkness and light? Do we even know anything about them at all? With this question, God points out the fact that Job, as well as the rest of humanity, are limited in knowledge. The mystery of light and darkness may very well hold the key to Einsteinís unified principle, but we will never know it, at least until Jesus returns to rule and reign over this Earth.
††††††††††† In Job 38:36, God then asks a paradoxical question, ďWho has put wisdom in the inward parts or given understanding to the mind?Ē I think this question alludes to that which defines sentient beings. Perhaps Iím wrong, but I think God is telling Job that Jobís own ability to ask the questions heís asking is something that God gave him the ability to do in the first place.
Everything comes from God. We are Godís imagination; nothing more, nothing less. Does God owe His own imagination an explanation? No, but interestingly, He loves what Heís created so much, He takes the time to tell that little piece of existence He made that it doesnít have the whole picture, and therefore can not possibly comprehend the grand design of it all.
In todayís language, perhaps Godís statement to Job would be, ďYou do not know, nor with your finite mind are you capable of knowing, the full extent of the reasoning behind my decisions and actions.Ē
But while it might be impossible for us to understand everything God does, we can trust Him in all things, because He is love. The way we can trust love, is the way we can trust God. Johnís statement above, where he defines God as love, is the key to understanding the book of Job. Our limited understanding of love is the closest we humans will ever get to understanding God. The more we understand love, the more we will understand God. And while nothing God allowed Satan to do in Jobís life seemed to have anything to do with love, the truth is, it had to, some way, some how, beyond our comprehension, or God wouldnít have allowed it.
Love is complicated. Yet itís simple. To say that we can understand God by understanding love, may not get us any closer to understanding God per say, because love is the most mysterious thing on Earth, but we should know enough about love to know that we can trust it. If love is the motive, the motive is pure.
Is any of this evident in Jobís final response to God? I believe it is. Simply being in Godís direct, manifest presence, gave Job all the assurance he needed in order to understand that Godís motives are based on love. Jobís last words to God, recorded in Job 42:5-6, were as follows: ďI have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.Ē
Was it Jobís fear of death that made him repent? No, because Job was praying for death repeatedly before he encountered God. I believe Jobís seeing was more than a description of his visual perception. Job may not have been able to answer any of Godís questions, but one thing he was able to do after seeing God was to humbly accept Godís nature as perfect and without fault. Thereís a saying: a picture is worth a thousand words. Well I would like to add to that saying. An encounter with God is worth more than any words can ever describe. God is the embodiment of truth and love, because He is the origin of all things, and all who meet Him know this to be the case.
So why do bad things happen to good people? The complete answer to this question is beyond our comprehension, but we can at least trust God, and know that somehow, someway, love is behind it all.