“Why do bad things happen to good people?”
I have heard this question (or a variation of it) countless times. Even the Biblical authors pose this question. In Psalm 73, the author points out, “For I envied the arrogant; I saw the prosperity of the wicked. They have an easy time until they die, and their bodies are well fed” (v. 3-4). Then he boldly asks, “Did I purify my heart and wash my hands in innocence for nothing? For I am afflicted all day long and punished every morning” (v. 13-14).
Have you been there? Witnessing the success of the arrogant while despite your upstanding character, you are burdened all day long? Or perhaps you simply pay attention to what is going on around the world. You see terrorism and riots. You see poverty and natural disasters. You see suffering and death.
Jeremiah 12, Job 3, and the first six chapters of Ecclesiastes all confirm what we already observe – wickedness exists and seems to afflict the righteous as much or more than the wicked. Following a simple, logical path we come to the conclusion that if God is real, He must not be a very good God. Why hasn’t this good God corrected all the evil that we experience?
Can I let you in on a little secret? He has!
I would like to argue that our simple, logical path is flawed from the beginning. We assume that a God cannot be just because of the evil in the world. In reality, God is just and that is precisely why there is evil in this world. And He has provided an escape from the evil in this world through His Son Jesus Christ. Through the Cross of Christ, all sin is atoned for, all death is overcome, and all that was lost in Genesis 3 is restored to perfection.
So if the evil consequences of sin have been conquered through Christ, why is there still suffering? Because of God’s grace and goodness! Salvation is for all people, but not all people accept salvation. God’s delay in completing the redemptive process should not be seen as a sign of injustice, but a sign of grace. Every day that He allows this sinful, fallen world to make another rotation is a day that someone else has the opportunity to embrace salvation through Christ.
For the Christian, your suffering continues because you have work to do. God’s gracious plan is to use you to lead others to Christ. Count every day that you suffer as a day of blessing to be a part of God’s evangelistic work.
For the non-Christian, God is gracious to you. He “wants everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:3-4). God has made a way for all suffering and death to be abolished. And even more glorious, He has freely offered this gift of salvation from sin, suffering, and death to you. Romans 10:9-10 tells us that if we confess Jesus as Savior and Lord, you will be saved. He is our Savior because He was crucified as payment for our sins and rose from the grave to save us from those sins. He is Lord because we commit to follow Him however He leads.
Consider today that the suffering you witness is a testimony to God’s grace to you. Every moment that we have on this already conquered earth is an opportunity to trust in Christ for salvation and be used by Him to lead others.