Why do bad things happen to good people?
– Read Jeremiah 38:1-6
Is that the way God’s people should be treated? Is what God’s people are to expect, that He will allow them to be treated that way?
That is not the only trauma Jeremiah experienced. He was beaten and put in stocks. He was mocked and ridiculed. He was chained, and in this passage, he was placed in a pit and left to die.
If God loves us, and if He knows everything, and if He is in control, why does He let this stuff happen? Why do bad things happen to good people?
We have seen a lot of drama, upheaval and stress for the last month or so. We have seen a lot of hurting people. Our country and those around us have suffered through several recent hurricanes, causing the death of many and leaving many others with additional, unintended and unplanned bills. Churches have been damaged. Homes have been destroyed. There are friends and neighbors whose homes still have water in them. There are friends in the Caribbean who are still struggling to get supplies and who will not have electricity in the foreseeable future.
Around the same time we began enduring hurricane Irma, Mexico was hit by an earthquake. A school was destroyed and children were buried.
Our country was rocked a week ago, by news of a mass shooting in Los Vegas, which killed 58 people and wounded another 489. Many of those attending were military vets and first responders. Stay-at-home moms and self-sacrificing dads were killed and wounded. Adults were left without spouses, parents without children, and children without parents.
Last night, Hurricane Nate made landfall and it’s eye-wall hit the Mississippi coast. Even now, it is moving inland, impacting more of our fellow citizens.
Why is all of this happening? Why is God allowing all of this to happen?
“If God is in control, why do bad things happen to good people?”
Now, I do not know the mind of God, I cannot share all of His reasons, but this morning I would like to share with you, 8 reasons from God’s Word, why bad things happen to good people.
I. WHY DO BAD THINGS HAPPEN TO GOOD PEOPLE?
1. Bad things happen because we live in a fallen world – Read Gen. 3:12-19
If you remember, in the beginning chapters of the Bible, man and woman lived in the Garden of Eden, a virtual paradise. There was no pain, no suffering, no heartache, and no death. Then Adam and Eve sinned. Because of their sin, the whole world was cursed. The deaths we have waiting for us one-day, the loneliness, sickness, pain and disease we endure today, all come because of man’s sin. People ask, “How could a loving God let people get sick? How can He allow cancer, and strokes, and Alzheimer’s?”
My friend, if you buy a brand new car, and go out and rear end someone and wreck it. You don’t blame it on the manufacturer. It is broken as the result of your actions. The sickness, and disease we endure today, the hurricanes and tornadoes, the droughts and floods, the struggle at work and pain in childbirth all came as a result of man’s sin. They broke it. The world is not like God created it. Why do bad things happen to good people? They happen because we live in a fallen world.
2. Bad things happen to good people because of the sins of others.
– Read 2 Samuel 11:14-17
If you remember, King David committed adultery with Uriah’s wife and she became pregnant. When David found out, He tried to cover his tracks by having his faithful soldier Uriah come back from the battlefield. David welcomed him, and then sent him home to be with his wife, thinking Uriah would sleep with his wife and then not know that he wasn’t the father. But, Uriah didn’t go and sleep at home. He would not enjoy the pleasure of a roof over his head and his wife’s company when his fellow soldiers were still on the battlefield and while the Ark of the Covenant was there as well. Was there ever a more innocent and committed man than Uriah?
Since his first plan failed, David had Uriah, an innocent man, killed, to cover his tracks. My friends, bad things often happen to good people because of the sins of others. Think of the families who go without food, because their fathers are addicted to gambling, drugs, or alcohol. Think of the innocent who are killed on our highways each year because others were driving drunk. Think of those killed in the Twin Towers because of other’s sins. Bad things happen to good people because we live in a fallen world, they …
3. Bad things happen to good people to teach and prepare us.- Read 1 Samuel 17:31-36
If you remember this account, you will recall that a giant named Goliath, would go out every day and stand in front of the Israelites and challenge them to a fight. Everyday, the soldiers there would tremble in fear. That is, until a young boy came and said he would fight the giant. When King Saul heard about the boy’s offer, he called David in and told him he was too young and inexperienced to fight that giant. David told him, “I have already fought a lion and a bear. God protected me then and He will protect me now.”
I imagine there were times, as he watched the sheep, that young David wondered why God didn’t protect he and the sheep from attacks by those wild animals. I imagine he had trouble understanding why God allowed those problems to keep coming his way. Little did he realize that God was preparing him for an even bigger challenge later, when God would use him to destroy Israel’s greatest enemy. The Lion and the bear were only part of God’s boot camp, designed to prepare David for bigger challenges later.
My friend, God sometimes allows bad things to come your way, so you will be equipped to work in bigger ways later.
4. Bad things happen to good people to bring glory to God. – Read Job 1:8-12
Do you remember? God was bragging to the Devil about Job. The Devil said, “If you let me attack him, he’ll turn his back on You.” So, God allowed bad things to happen to Job, and innocent man, so God would be glorified. It is easy, sometimes, to begin to think that the world revolves around us, to believe that God was made for us and not the other way around. We often believe that God owes us pain-free lives. Think of the glory God has received because of the testimony of Joni, the Christian quadriplegic. Think of the glory God has received through the life of David Wring. My friends, we need to get over the idea that God exists for us, and remember that we are called to bring glory to God.
Bad things happen to good people …
5. Bad things happen to good people to remind us to trust God.
When I was very young, I remember swimming at a lake during a Gregory family reunion. I know, the thought of such a reunion is more than some of you can stomach. At the lake, there was a dock. I would walk a little ways out on the dock, jump in the water, and then walk back to shore. Each time I was inching further and further out on the dock. Finally, it happened. I jumped into water that was over my head. I began floundering. I couldn’t breath. It was then that the lifeguard jumped in and pulled me to safety. Up until then, I depended on my own abilities. Finally, I reached the point where I needed someone else. My friend, it is mighty easy for us to begin to feel self-sufficient. It is mighty easy for us to believe we need nothing and no one, until disaster comes our way. It is then, when we can no longer handle things ourselves, that we often find ourselves forced to turn to the God we’ve ignored. It is often then, that we begin to pray with words we really mean. Sometimes, God allows bad things to happen to good people, to remind them to trust Him. He often allowed that to happen to the Israelites.
It is easy to talk about how great God is. It is easy to talk about how we trust Him, but it is often only when we have nowhere else to turn, that we begin to mean what we say.
6. Bad things happen to good people, to help other people.
My dad, Deputy Sheriff Gene Gregory, was shot and killed in the line of duty on July 8, 1998. I preached his funeral, and at that funeral I was able to share the Gospel with hundreds of law enforcement officers, many who never darken the door of a church.
When I preached that funeral, there was a man in the audience by the name of Bob Martin. Bob had been a Christian for many years, but his testimony was not the best in the world. He later told me that seeing me preach my father’s funeral gave him the courage to preach his father’s funeral when he died some months later. He invited a number of his co-workers to attend his dad’s funeral. When he did, though, he realized that his testimony at work was not the best in the world, so he began seeking the Lord and cleaning it up. Since that time God has used Bob to lead a number of his co-workers to the Lord. Bob started a prayer ministry and now when people at the sheriff’s department have struggles, many of them go and ask Bob to pray for them.
He was ordained as a deacon here, and later was ordained as a minister at FBC Lake Monroe, where he pastored for several years. He is now the interim pastor at Emporia Baptist Church.
Why do bad things happen to good people? Sometimes they happen so other people can be helped.
7. Bad things happen to good people to get your attention.
Do you remember Jonah? Jonah was a prophet of God. God told him He wanted him to go preach at Ninevah. He didn’t want to go. He ran in the opposite direction. God sent a storm and then a whale to swallow Jonah, to get him back on track and headed in the right direction.
3 weeks ago, I was talking to a man who claimed he didn’t believe there was a God. Then later in our conversation, after asking the very question we’re addressing this morning, “If God is in control, why do bad things happen to good people?”, he said, I wish He’d leave me alone. I wish He’d quit picking on me.
I asked him, “What would you be doing right now if you didn’t feel like God was picking on you? What would you be doing if everything was going fine, if the family was healthy and happy and everything was going well at work? Would we even be having this conversation? Would you be asking about God at all? He answered, “No!” I’d be doing my own thing and not worrying about any of this stuff.
That’s exactly the point, sometimes God allows bad things to happen to good people, just to get their attention.
Do you remember what happened after 9/11? My, the church buildings were full. We had God-denying congressmen standing on the steps of the capital building singing God Bless America.
We’ve seen the same thing happen in the past few weeks. I watched an interview with a man who was in the crowd, at the concert in Los Vegas. He said, “Before this happened, I was an agnostic. I didn’t believe there was a God. Now that I’ve been through this, and have seen what I’ve seen, I now believe there is a God and that He protected me through all of this. So far, we know of 65 people who have made professions of faith through the work of Southern Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers and the work they’re doing since Irma.
When Hurricane Sandy hit the northeast several years ago, disaster relief volunteers went and served there. Numbers of people came to know the Lord and a new church was planted by volunteers, made up of people who accepted Christ during the work going on there.
Are there storms and difficulties from time to time because we live in a fallen world? Yes! Certainly. But I am convinced that sometimes the Lord allows those events to come in a group or to pile up to get our attention, to push us to the point where we have no place to turn but to Him.
You have junk going on in your life. You have pain, setbacks, and disappointments, could it be the Lord trying to get your attention?
My word, what will it take to wake this nation up, to wake our churches and our people up again and to remind us of what is really important?
Sometimes God allows bad things to happen to get our or other people’s attention.
8. Bad things happen to good people to remind us we’re not home yet. – Read John 16:33
In this verse Jesus says, “You will have suffering in this world. I want you to underline that word “this.” Often, we get so busy building houses, taking care of our families, and working our jobs, that we forget that this place is not our home. We often forget that Jesus is even now preparing a place for us. Oh, my friends, we’re not home yet. The place we are going has no pain, it has no suffering, it has no separation, and there are no tears. The place we are headed to has streets of gold, gates of jewels, and joy filling the air. My friends, we’re not home yet. This place is not even a pale shadow of what God has waiting for us.
There is a better place waiting for us, but in this world, bad things will happen to good people.
Now, one question remains to be answered. When bad things happen to good people, how do good people, how do God’s people respond?
II. GOOD PEOPLE RESPOND TO BAD THINGS BY:
1. Trusting God – Read Romans 8:28, 31-32
Often, when pain and trouble comes our way, the first thing we need to do is to remember that God is in control, and then trust Him.
Let me ask you my friend, are you trusting this morning that God is in control?
2. Remembering God’s Love – Read Romans 8:35, 37-39
Remember that God loves you more than you can imagine…
3. Looking Ahead – Read 1 Corinthians 2:9
But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.
Something better’s coming.
Tell someone, “Something better’s coming.”
Think of the home that’s waiting. Think of the reunion we’ll have.
The story is told of the preacher who went to visit an elderly woman from the church, just hours before she passed away. As he leaned over her bed, she whispered something in his ear. The lady later passed away. Those who attended the funeral were surprised to discover that the woman, had in her casket, a spoon, grasped in her hands. When the preacher stood to preach the funeral, he explained.
“Shortly before our dear sister passed, she made a special request. She asked me to place a spoon in the casket with her. Then she asked me to explain. You see, when she was growing up, at the end of each evening meal, as the dishes were being cleared away, her mother always told the children to hang on to their spoons because something better was coming. Our sister wanted to be buried with her spoon because she wants you to remember, in the midst of your trials, in the midst of your struggles and pain that “Something better’s coming.”