Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,--Hebrews 12:1

Monday, July 2, 2012

Why do bad things happen to good people?

How many times have you heard the question, "Why does bad stuff always happen to me?" Maybe you've even asked it? You've probably also seen others suffering and stated, "He doesn't deserve that."

The implication in the question and the statement is the sufferer doesn't deserve his fate, whatever it might be. He doesn't deserve to lose his job. She doesn't deserve cancer. He doesn't to be treated like that. Usually the one making the statement believes the sufferer to be a "good" person, or at least not "that bad."

Then of course you have the flip side, the quintessential Hell-raiser who seems to be permanently encamped around the fount of every blessing. He has plenty of money, a nice home, nice cars, and all sorts of expensive toys. He treats people like cur dogs and hasn't a philanthropic bone in his body.

The statement again, "He doesn't deserve that!"

So why?

"Why?" is a question I never asked myself when Amanda was killed. Almost as soon as I heard the news, maybe even before the confirmation when I just "knew," I told myself I would never ask that question.

My reason wasn't that I believed it was all part of God's plan, or that I though God knew what He was doing. Those thoughts never crossed my mind, neither of them.

Instead, the idea bouncing around in my head was that no answer from God or anyone else would seem satisfactory to me. I mean, it wasn't like if God came down in a burning bush and said Amanda had to be killed for this or that reason that I was going to say, "Oh, okay God. Now I understand and I have no problem with you letting that murderous bastard kill my daughter."

I knew the why didn't matter because no answer could be good enough that I would understand, that I would think it's okay. Another thing I knew was that I had always tried to be a good person. For the better part of my adult life, I tried to set a good example and live right, doing what was right every day. A lot of people told me I didn't deserve this, that I was a good person, etc.

But my question was always, "Does anyone deserve this? Could anyone be so bad they deserve to lose their daughter in this way?"

One thing that I knew I had to do was to get in God's Word, to answer these and other questions I had. Questions like, "How can I keep going? Will I see Amanda again? What am I supposed to do now?"

When I began to study the Bible (I mean REALLY study it!) for the first time in my life, it not only answered my questions, but prepared me to deal with the comments, questions, and remarks so often thrown at a grieving parent.

I've written previously about seeing Amanda again. God's word provided the answer and I am confident that, when my time comes, I'll be wrapping my arms around her in the biggest hug I ever gave her. Our mission here at RWA describes what I'm supposed to do now and gives me a way to keep going.

So what about the other questions...Does anyone deserve the suffering of this life? And, why do bad things happen to good people?

As I'm currently climbing another of life's steep hills, these questions returned to the fore of my mind.

First let me make clear that I do not believe it was God's will that Amanda be murdered. God can do whatever He wants. He is omniscient without a doubt, but I don't believe He wants to hurt us. He can and will punish us at times. He's punished me for disobedience plenty in the past, but not by harming others. The disciplinary actions were sort of like spankings to a child, they stung for a little while--some physically, financially, emotionally--but didn't hurt others and didn't cause permanent damage from which I couldn't recover.
"When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone;" -- James 1:13
Amanda's death was the work of Satan, plain and simple, as are the current struggles in which I find myself. James tells us plainly that God doesn't tempt us and there is no doubt when faced with a mountain to climb in life, it's a temptation to stop what good you're turn around and find the easy way around...the way those Hell-raising others who seem to reap all the rewards without putting in any of the elbow grease of good deeds.

It's not God, but Satan. Remember Job, a man after God's own heart? It wasn't God who killed his family, destroyed his posessions, or took his health. It was Satan, hoping to prove that Job would not love God when oppressed by such misery. At the height of his suffering, Job's own wife told him to, "Curse God and die," so he would suffer not more.
"2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance." -- James 1:2-3
James tells us to count it JOY when we face trials, when we're suffering. That's hard, maybe impossible to say, "Awesome! My life's falling apart here on Earth," and really mean it. But the reason comes from WHY we're suffering and WHAT we have to look forward to if we stay true to God through the storm.

Job was targeted and tormented by the Devil because he was a good guy, a good guy doing all the right things -- a man after God's own heart. Think about it. Why would Satan go after the guy who's already doing his bidding?

If a person is out doing all the things the Bible tells us not to do, doing all the things that revile God, why would Satan want to interrupt him? Especially if the world looks on him with envy, saying, "I want what he has. I want to be just like him!" Is the Devil going to give this guy a hard time, the guy that's making his job easy?

Of course not! He's going to let him continue unabated, drawing more and more people into Satan's snares.

But the person who's working hard, trying to live right, he's an affront to the Devil. He's in the way. If he is constantly blessed and never faces a mountain to climb or a river to cross, people will be drawn to him. They'll want what he has and they'll want to know what he's doing to get it, how he's living.

The Devil doesn't want anyone looking on a person trying to live right and saying to himself, "I want to get me some of that!" And that's why he attacks!

That's why "only the good die young" or "bad things happen to good people," not because of God, but through direct attacks by Satan.
"I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us." -- Romans 8:18
Paul was beaten and left for dead, imprisoned, starved, and tortured for doing what he knew was right, working to build the church and spread the Good News of Jesus Christ. And in spite of they physical and emotional pain he endured, in spite of the pain that most certainly racked his body, he made this statement that this earthly pain we won't even remember when we find ourselves surrounded by glory at the feet of Jesus!

That's why the Devil fights so hard to keep the "good guys" from prospering here on earth. He wants that crowd at Jesus' feet to be as small as possible. Satan doesn't want ANYONE following in the footsteps of one on his way to Heaven.
"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." -- John 16:33
I can't promise you easy living if you work to do what's right. Jesus promised us just the opposite -- place your faith in Him and you WILL have trouble. But He also promises that trouble will not follow us into Heaven.
"He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." -- Revelation 21:4
No more tears. No more death. No more pain.

Not here, in this life, on this earth, but in Heaven. We will suffer down here. Bad things will happen. It's promised. But it's not God who batters "good" people with wind and rain and hail. It's Satan and he attacks and torments because He doesn't want others to follow. He wants to make the option to follow Jesus to look as unattractive as possible.
"And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." -- Philippians 4:7
Our job, as followers of Jesus Christ, is to lead by example. Others have to see that peace that surpasses understanding in our reactions to life's storms. As we struggle to climb life's mountains, others should see us struggle with a smile -- smiling at the prospect of what's to come when this life is through.

It won't be earthly rewards, an easy life or riches or treasure, that people see in us that makes them want to follow Jesus. It will be that smile as we suffer, that smirk on our face no matter how hard Satan makes things on us.

If you don't know Jesus as your personal savior, if you're missing the faith, hope, and love written about here, if you want the peace that we as Christians have in our lives, please visit our Got Jesus? page for step-by-step instructions on how to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.

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