Thursday, February 10, 2005

Vita Est Plena Rerum Difficilium

The question “why do bad things happen to good people?” is a very common question over which there is a lot of a confusion for both Christians and non-Christians. There are stories of people even becoming atheists simply because they could not comprehend how a loving God could let bad things happen. I will give a summarized view of my opinion on the matter—I will provide several scripture references which are meant to be read when they are given—I will not type out some of the verses here in the interest of space.

First of all, I believe that the question itself is flawed. In Matt. 19:17, Jesus says, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but One, that is, God.” All people are sinners and deserve to be wiped off the face of the earth and sent to hell for all eternity. Instead of asking how a loving God can let bad things happen to “good” people, the better question is “How can a holy, righteous, just, almighty God be so loving and merciful that he allows degenerate sinners like us not only to live in comfort, but also to have sent His Son to give His own life that we might live with Him for eternity?” Every breath we breathe is an incomprehensible mercy from God, how can we complain about petty sufferings?

But, putting that aside for a moment, if God loves us so much that He would give us eternal life, why does He allow bad things to happen to us on earth? I believe there can be several reasons. Is it to punish us for sins? This can be a reason that God might allow a bad thing to happen to us. When David committed adultery with Bathsheba, and murdered her husband, God caused his son to become sick and die in order to punish David (II Sam. 12:15-23). Heb. 12:6 says, “For whom the Lord loves He chastens.”

However, we must be very careful not to assume that everything we perceive as “bad” is punishment. John 9:1-3 relates a conversation of Jesus and his disciples:
“Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, saying, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’ Jesus answered, ‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him.’” Jesus then healed the man—in verses 35-41, we see that the man put his trust in Jesus—this means that God used the man’s blindness not as a punishment, but rather to bring him to salvation, as well as to be a testimony to others.

Perhaps the most extensive example of bad things happening to a good man is found in the book of Job. Job was described as a man who was blameless and upright, who feared God and shunned evil. The devil told God that if Job’s possessions and health were taken away, he would curse God. God gave the devil the authority to bring affliction on Job—when his children were killed, and his riches were destroyed, he said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” When he was afflicted with painful boils, his wife urged him to curse God and die. He replied, “you speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?”

Four of Job’s friends came to visit him, supposedly to comfort him. Three of them told him that he must have committed a terrible sin, because God would not do this to a righteous man. They gave him long and well thought-out (but wrong) arguments, but he maintained that he, though a sinner, had committed nothing worth this affliction. At times he came very close to accusing God of being unjust, and called God his adversary. Even in his periods of doubt, though, he trusted in God. In Job 13:15, he said: “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him.”

Elihu, the youngest but wisest of the friends, rebuked the other friends for falsely accusing Job, and rebuked Job for his self-righteous behavior. God then spoke to Job, asking him: (read Job 38:1-11) He reminds Job in an awesome way that He is holy and just. Job can only respond, “Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer You? I lay my hand over my mouth. Once I have spoken, but I will not answer; Yes, twice, but I will proceed no further.” God continues (read Job 40:6-9). Interestingly, God rebukes Job for doubting his justness, but never explains to Job why what happened to him happened. It was not important for Job to know—all he needed to know was that God is in control, is just, and acts justly. Job repented of his self-righteousness, and God forgave him.

Romans 8:28 says, “And for we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, and are called according to His purpose.” Everything that happens to us is for our good—even things we first think are bad.

So, why do bad things happen to "good" people? It may be to increase one’s faith, it may be to draw one closer to God, it may be as punishment. It does not really matter, we will not necessarily know the answer—the important thing is that we trust that God is in control, and is acting for our good. May we always say, “The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the Name of the Lord.”


Anonymous HV said...

Well spoken.

7:59 AM  
Blogger Chris Emlyn said...

Thank you.

9:14 AM  

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