Why do bad things happen to good people? This is a question many of us have struggled with in our own lives. In a time when our TV screens are plastered with horrific pictures and stories of tragedies and bad news, this question is particularly poignant. While we pray and mourn with those suffering, the questions rattle around in our minds: Why would God allow so much pain and suffering? Why does an all-powerful and all-knowing God not stop these horrific events before they happen? The questions hit closer to home for many of us who have faced the loss of a loved one, illness, a broken relationship, job loss, abuse, loneliness. Perhaps we wonder, what kind of God is it that we serve? Some hurl these questions at God as accusations against His character while for others these questions are genuine pleas that arise from deep struggle, pain and sorrow.
What do the tragedies and sorrows that surround us say about God? If He allows so many bad things to happen to good people, what is He really about? I propose that tragedy and sorrow don’t really say as as much about God as they say something about sin. This is specially apparent when we understand the context of the great conflict we live in between God and Satan.
I recently attended the funeral of a friend who struggled with a tumor for 8 years and who died at 35. I thought to myself, as I often do at funerals, why is this not easier? I’ve been to so many funerals in my lifetime, I should be used to this but why does death hurt afresh each time? After 6,000 years of death you would think death would be easier to handle. Anyone who has lost a loved one can tell you, this is not the case. Death is gut wrenching every time. It hurts every time. It is horrible every time. Why? I believe it is because we were made for eternity. God never designed you and me to deal with death and to experience its miserable effects. He created us for perfection, not illness. He created us for eternity not mortality. We weren’t created for pain, sorrow, and tragedy.
Satan entered the picture and told us that God lied, that life with God would not be as good as God said it would be. In fact, Satan postulated that life without God would be better, grander, and freer. We soon discovered him to be the liar.
Why does God allow these things? It is because Adam and Eve made a choice. Well, I didn’t have anything to do with their choice! Did God just leave us to Satan’s whims? I don’t know all the reasons God has allowed the effects of sin to play out as they do. One thing I know, and that is that God did not leave us; He left the glorious throne of heaven and entered our tragic story to offer a chance for us to be restored to His original plan (John 3:16). It is a plan that sounds a little like this: ”And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and He will dwell with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21: 3-4).
What does pain and death say about God? It says that although He didn’t create or design us for it, He entered it, became it, and took it on, so that you and I can once again live the eternal life He did intend for us. This does not ease our pain, or alleviate our anger, but it does give us a hope.