Why do bad things happen to good people?

I lead a small group in my home each week, and we just started a new series. We put all of our biblical questions — those we’ve been dying to know — in a jar. Each week we pull out a question and that’s the next week’s study.

Why do bad things happen to good people?

Those were the words on the slip of paper I pulled out. I desperately wanted to pretend that I had picked a different question. I was tempted to put it back in, hoping that my co-teacher would pick it next week.

You see, we know that this is true. Sometimes bad things happen to good people.

It’s one thing to answer this question when you are on the other side of the “bad-things-that-happen-to-good-people” part of your life, but it’s another to answer it when you are in the heat of it. Somehow I knew this wasn’t an accident. The Lord was leading me. This was a personal invitation. As I studied, the answers would settle in my own heart.

And they did.

They are.

They will continue to do so

What’s the real question we are asking?

The more I read on this topic, the more that the question began to shift away from “Why do bad things happen to good people?” I could answer that with a quick response. We live in a fallen world, and sometimes we are injured by another person’s sin or choices. Sometimes unexpected things happen — like sickness, or a job loss.

Yet the deeper I studied, I sensed the Holy Spirit leading to two questions that we may be asking instead:

Where is my faith in all of this?

Where is my God in all of this?

Where is my faith in all of this?

Suffering hurts. 

Can we all acknowledge that? It makes us feel uncertain and vulnerable. We don’t understand the “why” behind it.

In Acts 5:33-42, the apostles are doing good. Lots and lots of good. Yet they suffer. They are harassed. They are dragged into jail and before authorities. They are flogged (beaten severely). At one point, they are threatened. They are told to leave and never speak the name of Jesus again.

They called the apostles in and had them flogged.Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. 

The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah. Acts 5:40-42 (NIV)

This scenario makes no sense. There’s nothing in this passage that would lead to rejoicing. They shouldn’t have been flogged. They shouldn’t have been threatened. They shouldn’t have been imprisoned.

Instead, they should have been: Discouraged, knocked down, halted, stopped, broken, bruised, battered, dismayed, angry, frustrated, stymied.

They were none of these.

We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. 2 Corinthians 4:7 (NLT)

They had been pummeled on the exterior, but there was something inside of them so strong that they threw their hands in the air and rejoiced, even as they suffered.

That was their faith. It’s ours as well.

Which helps us answer the next question.



Where is our God in this?

He’s inside of you. He’s inside of me.

When I am hungry, I reach for a fork, for that is what makes sense in my flesh. Spiritually, when I am bruised and hurt by people, or circumstances, I reach for God and I find him.

He’s right there. Inside of you. Inside of me.

God mourns with us over those things that shouldn’t have happened. We move forward as we unite our suffering with Him. We find his presence in the midst of our suffering, and what the enemy thought would stop, strangle, tangle, knock us down, is reclaimed, restored, and redeemed.

We may not see an instant miracle, but we know who our God is — and where to find Him — and that’s when the miracle begins. We find His presence close, throwing up our hands in the air to rejoice, in spite of our suffering.

Will you pray this prayer with me today?

Lord, You understand what it means to suffer. What the enemy meant for harm, I place in your hands once and for all. Restore my heart. Reclaim my identity as yours. Redeem what I cannot change, and use it to heal others who are hurting. I throw my hands in the air and rejoice — not over what I cannot change — but because of who you are. In Jesus’ name, amen.


Day #4 of Moving Past What You Cannot Change

I know that we are going deep. Hang with me, sweet friends. Sometimes the hardest work is most beautiful soul-healing work. I’m praying with you as you do this. Grab your journal and Bible. I’m here. I’ve got my delicious raspberry-banana smoothie and my Bible (what are you drinking?).

Let’s do this!

Read 2 Corinthians 1:1-11. 

Q: In 2 Cor. 1:1-11, Paul describes God as a God of _____________. In what way, do you need this from Him?

Q: Describe one way that God redeems/redeemed your suffering.

Q: If you are presently struggling with the bad-things-that-happen-to-good-people part of your life, describe what it might look like to “align your suffering with Jesus.”

All week long we’ve acknowledged what we struggle to move past, but today we take a small shift forward as you begin to ask these questions:

  • Where is my faith in all of this?
  • Where is my God in all of this?


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