One need only read a newspaper or turn on the evening news to hear stories about many “bad things happening to good people.” It is a question that many people have wrestled with for a very long time.
We hear the stories of Christians all over the world suffering at the hands of their Islamic oppressors. Kidnapping, rape, bombing, murder, beheadings are an all too real part of the daily threat to Christians in other parts of the world. Furthermore, there are countless stories of young people who had their lives stripped from them at an early age.
What Is A Bad Thing?
When asking the question: “Why do bad things happen to good people?” we must be clear with what a “bad thing” really is.
Given the examples above, it seems foolish that some people would still consider “bad things” to be things like: missing the bus/train on your morning commute, getting caught in the rain without an umbrella, running low on money, stepping in gum, getting a stain on your shirt, having your car break down, getting a cold, running out of battery on your phone/computer, or being late for something due to unforeseen circumstances.
These are not “bad things.” These are “minor inconveniences.” The universe is not out to get you when you experience these things.
I wish not to go into greater detail of evil & suffering in this post, because I believe that should be reserved for a post in and of itself. I am not fully addressing the topic of “Why is there evil & suffering?” in this post today.
Are We Good People?
When asking the question: “Why do bad things happen to good people?” we must also be clear with what we mean by “good people.” Are we really good people though?
I once read an article which stated that “a new study suggests that humans are not naturally violent.” In other words, they believed that they had scientifically proven that humans are naturally good people. They were challenging the “popular misconception that corruption is a trait of human nature.” Unfortunately, good & bad are not something which can be scientifically proven or disproven. The question: “Are we good people?” is not mainly a scientific question; rather, it is a philosophical one.
There are some who would like to believe that humans are naturally good people but will soon contradict themselves when they read the stories in the news mentioned above. If people are naturally good, why do they lock their doors? Could it be that they worry about people who are not naturally good? If people are naturally good, why do we cry out over all the injustice they see humans committing?
What Does The Bible Say?
Psalm 51:5 – Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me
Jeremiah 17:9 – The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?
Mark 7:21-23 – From within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person
Romans 3:10-18 – “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”
It is not inhuman to commit such evils as described in the news; rather, it is very human! We are not good people doing bad things; we are bad people who occasionally do good things. You don’t need to teach a baby to whine & cry when they don’t get their way, they do that naturally. You don’t have to teach young children to throw toys & bite each other, they do that naturally.
We can all recognize that someone who walks into a school to shoot children & teachers is not a good person with good intentions and a naturally good heart. Furthermore, no one knows the darkness and wickedness of our own heart & thoughts better than ourselves. We would be horrified if others knew everything we always thought about, wouldn’t we?
Why Do Bad Things Happen To Good People?
If there is no such thing as a “good person” other than Jesus, then there is no such thing as a “bad thing” happening to a “good person;” rather, “bad things” happen to “bad people.”
Does this make the bad things any better? Absolutely not. Jesus still weeps over the bad things that happen to His children. Hebrews 4:15 says “We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.”
Jesus is the only person in history to have a “bad thing” happen to a “good person.” He was without sin & was yet killed by a gruesome death in much worse pain than experienced today. His reaction? “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34). It was not “Why does this bad thing happen to a good person like me?” He knew He had to die and the greatest good came out of the greatest evil.
When asking the question: “Why do bad things happen to good people?” we must be clear as to what a bad thing is and that there are no naturally or inherently good people. “Why do bad things happen to good people?” is a fundamentally flawed and problematic question because it’s premises are not true.
Some people have rather foolishly used the question “Why do bad things happen to good people?” as some sort of evidence that God must not exist. If a good God exists, He wouldn’t let bad things happen to good people, they say. Given the facts above, I do hope that you can see that simply asking this question does not disprove God in any way.
– Tyson Bradley
**I should add that this post was not designated to answer the question of “Why is there evil & suffering?” That will be reserved for a post later on in the future as a part of the “Tough Topics” series. For now, I only wish to show the fundamental flaw in the question: “Why do bad things happen to good people?” Thank you for reading & thinking.**