Why was an innocent women killed by a drunk driver, leaving three young children behind? Why was an entire town washed away by a huge hurricane? Why did an elderly man get beaten by gang members for not having any money?
Why do bad things happen to good people?
When these scenarios happen, it can be hard not to get upset and to begin questioning God for His role. We want to bargain with God and beg Him to make life fair. What did these people do to deserve this? Without even realizing it, our deepest resentment and blame may be directed at God. We may feel bitter, angry, and want to push Him far away. Where is God when these terrible things happen?
The truth is, though, that we might not ever understand why these things happen. There is a lot of guesswork and that's usually all that ever will come from it. We don't always understand why life is so difficult, but how we respond to this type of pain can make a world of difference. Instead of beating ourselves up, we should learn how to be kinder and gentler with ourselves.
By understanding what the Bible has to say about suffering, we can create a better relationship with God and find healthier ways to react to life’s ups and downs.
Responses to Bad Circumstances
When we have something bad happen to us as Christians, there are typically three key responses that we will have towards the situation.
Denial: When someone is in denial, they won't admit that anything on the outside is affecting them. Instead, they will smile and continue to be the "happy-go-lucky" person they are known to be. They may crack jokes about their poor situation to try and break the ice and cover up their real pain. Even though things are clearly not OK, when someone is in a state of denial they will absolutely refuse to admit it.
Anger: Becoming angry at life and its circumstances is something we've all been through. Sometimes we want to scream at God and ask Him "Why me?" We might even begin to take out our anger on those closest around us. We yell at our spouses, get overly irritated on the roads, or get snippy with our bosses. God in these moments will seem distant and unhelpful. Dealing with your anger in a positive, constructive way is the only route to getting out of this negativity.
Placing Blame: When we get thrust into a bad situation, we might be quick to point the finger at someone. As humans, we have a desire to pinpoint an exact reason why this terrible thing is happening to us, so we want to give the blame to someone. We want to find someone who is at fault. Sometimes, though, there really is no one we can blame. Things in life just happen, and all Christian suffer no matter what.
All of these ways of dealing with suffering are ineffective, and will only make us feel further from God and the truth. Instead of letting toxic emotions take over you, try to find some healthy outlets for your pain. Meditation, prayer, daily devotionals, and the like are all great ways to start. God wants you to put your pain, suffering and hurt on to Him. Psalm 55:22 says "Cast your burden on the Lord, and He will support you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken."
Truths About Suffering
The truth about suffering is that it is something we will all eventually go through. Christians and non-Christians alike will have bad things happen to them, despite how many "good" things we do for this world. Christians must learn that the suffering we go through is not a punishment from the Lord. The good things that happen to us also aren’t a reward.
The Bible actually says that there are not "good" people. In Mark 10:18, Jesus said that only God is good. God will be the one who makes sure that justice is served on Judgment Day. Many Christians misunderstand this, and believe that good works will put us in favor with the Lord. This is not true. The only way we will one day serve our Lord is by accepting Jesus Christ as our true savior. The better question should really be “Why does God allow good things to happen to bad people?” We know, however, that the answer is because God loves us no matter what we do. No matter the sins we commit and the wickedness of our nature, God still gave His Son to us.
Suffering is a necessary part of the Christian life. Jesus went through an incredible amount of pain and suffering so that we could be saved from our sins, and have those burdens lifted off of us. The Bible, though, tells us that we have to suffer as well in order to share in that glory. Through our suffering, we learn what it meant for Jesus to truly sacrifice Himself for us. The pain we go through now will be worth the glory and happiness we will one day find in Heaven. Romans 8:18 says "I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us." When we get to Heaven, the pain of our past simply won't matter. We won't sit and dwell on asking "why", but instead rejoice in God's name.
When we finally reach Heaven, we will discover that God was with us every step along the way. The suffering that we went through in our lifetimes won't mean anything anymore. We will feel no jealousy towards those who had a "great" life on earth. Nothing will matter because we will stand with our Father in Heaven.