by Raymond McAlister
  May 2005

We have all asked the old "why" questions. Why did I get sick? Why did a certain person die? Why did they have that accident?

I personally think there are at least four reasons why bad things happen to good people.

First, some things just happen for no particular reason. They happen to the bad as well as the good. Ecclesiastes 9:11 says, "I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all."

To jump into the middle of Jesus’ teaching, He said in Luke 13:4, "Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem?" They did not die because they were good or bad. They died because a tower fell on them. Some people are just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Hurricanes, tornadoes, tsunamis and floods do not play favorites. Automobile accidents happen to the good and the bad. You will find moral, immoral and amoral people among cancer patients. Some bad things just happen in this life.

Second, we bring some things on ourselves. I will always remember a man I visited in the hospital who said, "I have smoked for forty years and always said it didn’t hurt me. I guess I was wrong." Within a week he died of lung cancer. It was something he did that caused his death.

When a drunk drives a car and has an accident, he ëan’t blame it on God. I think a good many of our problems are self-inflicted. Let’s not blame God for something that is our fault.

Third, some problems we have are directly from God. Hebrews 12:6 states, "For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth." When a child of God sins, God often sends some troubles to get his attention. The purpose of chastisement, whether a child or a child of God, is for the purpose of repentance and restoration. God wants us to do right.

What does God do to chasten us? Whatever will best get our attention. He could take something away from us or maybe put us flat of our back so we will look up. I heard of a man who went to the hospital to have his tithe taken out.

Fourth, some bad things that happen to good people are God’s will. Remember the blind man that the disciples asked Jesus about? "Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him (John 9:3). Here was a boy that grew up without sight because God had a purpose in it. Did it ever occur to you that God made you exactly the way you are for a purpose?

The question then arises, couldn’t God intervene in such cases? Of course He could. Then why would God allow his children to suffer? I think there is an answer to that question. As a matter of fact, there are a couple of answers.

Regardless of why the trouble or problem comes on us, two things should be true. First, God should be glorified in it. Matthew 5:16 says, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." The way we conduct ourselves in the midst of a trial can be a fantastic testimony to the grace of God. Did you ever think that the only way you can take the glory off yourself for your good works and give it to God is with your mouth?

1 Thessalonians 5:18, "In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." That does not say, "For every thing give thanks," but "In every thing give thanks." Regardless of the circumstances we find ourselves in, we should be thankful. God is honored when we are.

The second thing that should be true regardless of why we got into a bad situation is, new opportunities will be opened to present the gospel. People have heard the gospel and many have been saved at funerals because someone died. Would it be worth you dying if someone would be saved because of your death? Being in the hospital puts a person in contact with doctors, nurses and others that might need to hear the gospel. Disasters often soften people’s hearts and turn them to God. God really doesn’t make mistakes.

If everything always went right for Christians, then many people would become "Christians" just to get their problems taken care of.

Quite the opposite is true. Paul warned us in 2 Timothy 3:12, "Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution."