Why do bad things happen?


Chapter 1: First thoughts ...p 4

Chapter 2: Who is really in control? ...p 6

Chapter 3: What is God really like? ...p 13

Chapter 4: Does God discipline us? ...p 24

Chapter 5: Why do bad things happen? ...p 28

Chapter 6: Are you prepared? ...p 48

Chapter 7: Honey from the Rock ...p 60

Chapter 1: First Thoughts

Let’s begin by asking some questions. Is there someone you know to be a good person, who had something bad happen to them or their family? Maybe there was an accident, an illness, a near drowning. Why should an eleven year old girl die in the ICU, and next to her a seventy-two year old man come through an emergency heart bypass operation and live on a few more years? Or why should an innocent bystander get taken out in drunken driving accident? Unexplained personal and public tragedies, like 9/11, can undermine faith at best, and cause bitterness towards God at worst. This book will give positive answers as to why bad things happen, even to good people.

Who is ‘good’?

When we ask why bad things happen to ‘good’ people, realize that what you and I might define as good or bad, might not coincide exactly with what God says is good or bad. For starters only God is perfectly good. Jesus said so in Luke 18:19. The rest of us fall short of His perfect standard in some way or another. When we say so and so is a good person, how come such a terrible thing happened to them we imply their level of goodness automatically earns them complete coverage. If only it was so simple. If only God is truly good, that makes all of us flawed in some way if we are prepared to admit it. That’s why we all need Jesus to save us and begin protecting us from ourselves, the devil and other flawed people, the major players in the drama of life. This is so important if we are not to blame God unfairly for what He is not responsible for. Struggles in life are best understood by considering the interplay between God, the devil, and us. All have their own nature and way of doing things. Leave one party out of the picture, and you have an incomplete understanding of why bad things happen to good people. Remember that being ‘religious’ does not necessarily make you a good person. It was ‘religious’ people who liked to think of themselves as good people that harassed Jesus. The Scribes, Pharisees and Sadducees had good standing in the community, but were nevertheless hypocrites – saying one thing and doing another. Their own ‘goodness’ as it appeared to man, was no guarantee of complete protection from God who knows and sees all things as they really are. Maybe you have heard someone say, “Brother or sister so and so was such a good person, I just don’t understand why that bad thing happened to them.” They may have appeared so righteous on the outside from man’s standpoint, but not necessarily from God’s. God makes His position on all matters clear in His Word. If we do not know or understand why bad things happen from the scripture, chances are that the devil will exploit the situation to his advantage. He will take any opportunity to question God’s love, goodness and integrity. So take some time to go through the following chapters and ask God to throw some light on why bad things happen even to ‘good’ people. Your relationship with God may depend on it.

Chapter 2: Who’s really in control?

When something bad happens, whether it is a personal family tragedy like a car accident or someone being diagnosed with cancer, or a national tragedy like the World Trade Center airplane crashes, people often ask questions about God’s integrity. “How come an all loving, all powerful God would allow such a thing to happen?” they ask. Or maybe: “If God is sovereign, how come things like this happen?” In this chapter we look at who is really in control and what part we actually play in life’s drama. Every year hundreds of thousands of people are killed as a consequence of drunken and irresponsible driving. Also, it is estimated that millions of babies worldwide are killed through abortion each year. Who is responsible for all these tragedies? Think of it this way. When someone dies or is injured in a drunken driving incident, does the head of that nation’s Department of Transportation get blamed for the irresponsibility of the drunken law breaker? Of course not! Why then should the loving God in heaven get the blame for irresponsible people breaking His commandments? It is only because of His common grace to everyone, that more people do not get killed and maimed each day.

The big and small picture… what Jesus’ temptations tell us.

In church circles it is popular to say when something is going wrong, that ‘God is in control’. This is both true and untrue depending on the scale of things. What do I mean by ‘scale of things’? Overall, God is in control. When you read the beginning and end of the Bible you see God creating everything, and it was good. At the end of the Bible, He wraps things up and it is all restored to being totally good again. This is the big picture. Yet, between the beginning and the end at a smaller scale, our scale, things go wrong all the time. We mess up, and the Bible is full of stories of God rescuing us from ourselves! The problem of sin is still being worked out in our time. Let’s take it a bit further. Remember there is another player here. Satan. Let’s look at the temptations of Jesus in the wilderness at the beginning of His ministry.

Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, being tempted for forty days by the devil. And in those days He ate nothing, and afterward, when they had ended, He was hungry. And the devil said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread." But Jesus answered him, saying, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.'" Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said to Him, "All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. Therefore, if You will worship before me, all will be Yours." Luke 4:1-7

Satan gets to the core of the control issue up to that point. He offers Jesus the kingdoms of this world if Jesus would only bow down and worship him. Could it be that he, satan was actually in control at that point and his offer a legitimate one? I think so. Jesus is undergoing a genuine temptation. He had been sent to earth to buy back or redeem mankind through His life death and resurrection, God’s chosen path of submission. Yet here satan is trying to deceive Jesus into bowing His knee to him, something he had craved for so long. He was the anointed cherub seeking to exalt his throne above that of God’s. Worship is the key ingredient in submission. He was using his classic ‘bait and switch’ tactic. Bait Jesus with what He wanted: the kingdoms of the world, but switch things when He fell to the temptation. Thank God Jesus did not fall for it and resisted him with the written word! He went on to regain all authority on earth, under the earth and in heaven, restoring order in the spiritual realm with satan on the outside looking in, stripped of his authority defeated at his own game.

Having disarmed principalities and powers,
He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.
Colossians 2:15

Life is all about authority in four realms: heaven, the heavenlies and on earth….and under the earth. Jesus’ obedience protected Him so that He could fulfill His purpose to restore creation back to God’s perfect plan. God had given it to Adam in the garden, but he messed up, allowing satan to gain illegal control and use disobedient men to further his diabolical schemes. God had to establish His covenants with obedient men to restore and build His everlasting kingdom whilst satan worked with disobedient men to set up his opposing and counterfeit kingdoms, which he offered to Jesus at the wilderness temptation.

Sure the earth belongs to God. But the earth He gave to man!

The heaven, even the heavens, are the LORD's;
But the earth He has given to the children of men.
Psalm 115:16