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 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?
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!
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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God is a God of comfort. This soothes my soul in trying times.
I am largely alone in the world. I am responsible for me and my two kids. I get some financial help from their father, but not enough to pay our bills. I alone run a house, their schedules, take care of the yard work, have a job, food shop and cook, etc. I have no family living in the same state as I do. I have made some bad choices over the last 2 years and rather isolated myself socially.
My largely alone is of my own doing, and I’m just now beginning to understand the reasons it happened. I think I needed to feel alone in many areas of my life in order to turn to God more. I think I always counted on someone else to solve my problems and now I’m finally accepting the quality of my life is up to me. I did not want to accept this responsibility, but by being alone, I’ve had no choice. It’s me and God. That’s all I’ve got. But it’s more than enough if I let it be.
When I’m scared, feeling lonely, wondering how the light bill is going to get paid this month, and want to curl up in a little ball and hide, God comforts me there and I feel sure everything is going to work out. I am blessed this way.
“The LORD is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid?” Psalm 27:1
Shelly, when I read your words, I see a daughter who is deeply leaning into her Savior. You are showing the example of sitting, listening, and waiting on God. Sister, that is brave and courageous. Sitting in the quiet can be scary, but it is also a beautiful, deep-rooting growing time with God. I am praying for you, Shelly. I pray for peace over you and your family today. Hugs.
Lord, thank you for Shelly. I hear such wisdom in her words. I pray that in this wilderness time, she finds you more dear, more near, more strong, more real than she ever has. May the mark upon her heart and life be that of a daughter who walked with Jesus.
At the right time, lead her to godly friends and thank you that we can fill that gap in the meantime. What a privilege!
Suffering is unavoidable on this planet — thank you for the reassurance that the only real choice is made between suffering alone or suffering in the company of God and His people.
So true, Michele. It brings me comfort to know I am not alone as I walk through the valley of suffering. God is in me and beside me, as I make the journey to walk through the pain and uncertainty.
These words fall upon my soul. As I drink my java and read and begin to journal I know these words well. God is ALWAYS with me – it is whether I run to Him that makes the difference. I’m sitting in my pain. Some days it feels like I’m drowning in it but I refuse to choose the ways of the world – to numb my hurt. To choose to smooth it over and look for something to fill my heart when it feels empty. I pray. I cry out to Him. I’m allowing myself to feel the pain of loss and work through it. I’m sitting with other women in their pain. As we sit in our pain we are praying and comforting one another and encouraging each other through Christ. Healing only happens in our soul when we recognize the suffering and take it to the One who created us to be healed. God gave me my emotions and it is only He who can redeem and restore me. I don’t like the mess of loss and when I’m in it (like now) I don’t want it yet I know God is doing a work in me and I recall past hurts and losses and how He strengthened me through them. I don’t have to understand God’s timing to trust His plan for my life. I know that as a Christian God does not promise me blue skies everyday but He does promise to be with me through the storms. Thank you for allowing God to speak through you to so many women Suzi. Blessings, Heather
Heather, I hear your faith in this comment. I hear strength. I hear honesty. I hear a determination to unite your suffering with that of Christ, which is a powerful move. It makes no sense in the natural, because our inclination is to drown in it (it’s okay to feel it, that’s not what I’m saying), but your desire is to soak in the goodness of God — even in the hard parts. So very strong!
Father, thank you for Heather. Thank you that she knows the words well, and lives in those words. Cover her with your love today. Let your presence be powerful. Direct her. Speak to her. And walk with her. She is following where you lead, and you are performing miracles inside of her — even as it appears that nothing is going as it should. We throw up our hands today in praise for who you are. In Jesus’ name.
Powerful words Heather! Specially was touched by “I don’t have to understand God’s timing to trust His plan for my life.” We see but a little bit of the picture but God sees it all and knows all we are just required to trust him in the process.
When I read this today I pictured an imaginary line that I don’t cross. My faith keeps me on one side of this line no matter what happens in my life. Comfort is what I need right now going through a really hard time with my son. God is keeping me on the right side of the line through this. It has made a big difference for me in my life on how I look at circumstances and the words that I say to my son to guide him through this mess. We do have a glorious God Almighty living in us and I am so thankful for that.
That is a strong image. I love this!
Jody, I love that image of a line we make a choice not to cross but instead hol onto our faith as we did our heals into God’s truth!! Incorporating this into my journey too! Thank you for sharing!!
Lord you are the line. The boundary you set allows us to stay behind you. You Fight so we can rest and be comforted by your peace. Father thank you for using Jody’s real life situation to testify to our need to stay where you put us so you Can be Glorified. AMEN.
Amen Maggie! I am so comforted that God fights for us when we need rest. We must hold on to God’s promises.
The picture I added to the link up is one of the 2 that ended our summer involvement in one local Farmers Market. I had already faced rejection because of the high number of Jewelry makers at my dream location. The local market is nice but doesnt have the same sence of community. I knew when I added the hashtag #madewithprayer there would be rejection. God sent a clear picture of what I would be choosing. As I hesitated I could hear him asking….will you continue to deny me. In that moment I knew I had to choose and I chose Jesus. My business is healthy enough spritually to handle worldly rejection….it was my own flawed plans that had to be reconciled to God’s for his purpose. The last quarter I worked on several ministry & missions projects that encouraged moving….there’s that word again “moving” …in a new Direction. Trusting that God’s plan is to prosper us in faith. Last Night we stopped in at Boone Bells and I found the perfect whale sign. It says dream big…a reminder my dreams are too small, The owner was there asking about school systems in our area so we chatted & encouraged him to look into homeschool. He couldn’t picture what that looked like so I mentioned the name of several entrepreneur Dads & business owners who are professors in town at appy state and the church the fellowship in…then he asked…why the whale? Because I need the reminder to Go where God sends me like Jonah and not be consumed by contempt. #madewithprayer IS moving us in the direction God would have us to go.
LOVE THIS!!!!!! What a beautiful imagery… I’ve seen a similar whale sign and now I want to find one for myself! I love your outlook, Maggie…. you got this, girl!
Thank you so much for your insight into God’s word. I love the Lord with all my heart and soul, and am sold out to Him! My husband and I (of 24 years) have been struggling in our marriage for the past 5 years. He began an affair 5 years ago, moved out, but 2 years ago, moved back in and seemed to be working toward rebuilding our marriage. I have recently been confronted by the “other woman” and told that the affair continues. He is once again in a bad place, and desperately needs the Lord. My prayer today is for his heart to brought back to God, and to be truly convicted of what he is doing. I am praying for God to lead me in the way I should go, and give me strength, patience and endurance as I wait for his instructions, and for him to redeem what I cannot change.
Lord, what an incredibly hard place and one that cannot be changed by Jane, but you can move in her heart and be her anchor. You can move in the heart of this man. Bring him to his knees. Draw him to the cross. Remind him of whose he is, and show him the plans of the enemy clear and dangerous and destructive. Remove the blinders from his eyes. Remind him of your love for him, and the plan for his life. Thank you for Jane’s faith and hope in you, regardless of what her husband does or does not do. She is your daughter, deeply loved, deeply cherished, and marked for a plan and a purpose. Hold her close today. Give her wisdom and insight and supernatural strength from the inside out. In Jesus’ name.
Thank you SO much for these precious words and prayer!
I appreciate the thought that Jesus is with us and He weeps with us. Too many times we try to answer that question of where is He when bad things happen with other cliches that just don’t minister to the heart. Thank you!
Amy, Jesus is with us weeping in those hard times. I pray it brings you comfort and some peace in those moments. Walking in our faith and assurance that He is there with us helps us come out on the other side with a deeper and stronger faith.
Thank You Suzie For This Study! My Husband And I Are Struggling Financially! We Have Credit Card Debt And Are Trying To See A Way Out! Our Car (the only one we have) Will Need Some Work On It, and I have Another Tooth, That Will Need A Root Canal! Still Paying On The First Tooth, Had A Root Canal! I Know Things Happen When You Don’t Expect It! But Why Now! My Caregiving Job Is Slowing Down!
Oh Glee, praying for you and your husband that God walk with you through this time of stress. May He grant you wisdom with the concerns in your life and bring you financial, spiritual and physical healing.
Praying for you and your husband to cling to God’s promises. He is your support system–remember you are not walking this journey alone. Seek Him in all decisions as you work your way through this challenge.
Amen… we DO know where God is and how to find Him! Even when are feelings or circumstances are arguing with us.
Yes we do. Sometimes it is hard to see or hear God in the midst of those storms. But God is good and in walking beside us, even when.
Where is my faith in all of this? I struggled with this question and repeated it a couple times. I had to look up the defintion. Above my fireplace is a picture given to me at christmas by my son it says Faith makes everything possible I have pondered on the words. When my husband and I were first married we had a plaque If you have faith as small as a mustard seed… we know these verses… yet my faith isn’t anything without God’s Word. I live …yet not I but Christ in me…it’s his doing and it wont happen if it amiss with His will. He knows, the begining and the end of each of our lives and the inbetween. he already has a name picked out for us. So my faith is
THE MEANING OF THE WORD The root word from which we get ‘faith, the noun is PISTIS, and ‘believe’, the verb is PISTUEO. FAITH – PISTIS means faith, belief, firm persuasion, assurance, firm conviction, faithfulness.The root word from which we get ‘faith, the noun is PISTIS, and ‘believe’, the verb is PISTUEO. FAITH – PISTIS means faith, belief, firm persuasion, assurance, firm conviction, faithfulness. BELIEVE – PISTUEO – to trust in and rely upon, commit to the charge of, confide in, have a mental persuasion.The word “faith” appears 336 times in the King James Version. Other bible versions have varying counts: Faith appears 458 times in the New International Version, 389 in the New King James Version, 378 in
Where is my God in all of this? As I look at this question Im loving the hebrew definition of faith…Where is my God in all this? He is living inside of me 🙂 His holy spirit comforts me and His word nourishes me. He has and always will be the ONE and only TRUE god…he does not Lie he does not Leave, He does not disappear, He is present even when we can’t feel him, He keeps his promises, He is our provider, He is our preparer…..I love that he never changes. I can trust in him and he wants me to come to him to commit to him all my issues he wants me to confide in him, I am persuaded that neither life nor death can separate me from his love 🙂 I have firm conviction He is who He says He is I believe in Jesus and His shed blood on the cross that when he says we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins…..With all of this available to us…our hearts can rest. Suzie I even like the question who is my God in all of this? 🙂
my faith is….rooted and grounded in HIM and His Word…:)
Linda, I love your words! ❤ They resonate so much with my soul. These stories you shared are some of my favorites because they are full of so much hope for us in Jesus! It is a daily struggle to let go. I will let it go and then take it. back over and over again. This was so helpful to me in my journey to lay my worries, anxieties and cares at Jesus’ feet and trust Him. Thank you so much for sharing!