We humans often find ourselves wondering why bad things happen to good people. I’ve caught myself doing it … even saying it aloud. Yet the premise is entirely wrong! Can any human claim goodness? Jesus Himself said: “No one is good except God alone.” (Mark 10:18, ESV) Paul tells us that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Rom 3:23) And we who have been saved are not saved as a “result of works“, but “by grace … through faith” in the atonement of Jesus blood, the “gift of God.” (Rom 8:28-29)
So, if not one of us can claim goodness, what happened? God did create everything “good,” including humans (Gen 1:31). But, being created in the image of God (Gen 1:26-27), mankind was given a free will – an innate ability to choose and decide how to live, act, etc. And, being less than Divine, man and woman chose to act against the will of God (Gen 3:1-13). The consequence was a series of curses pronounced upon the serpent, woman, and man (Gen 3:14-19) … even more, upon all of creation.
Paul eloquently discusses all this in the context of God’s redeeming re-creation:
18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” (Rom 8:18-25)
Paul acknowledges and accepts suffering as part of our existence in this age. But he goes on to complete our understanding. All of creation is watching, waiting, and seeing what God is revealing of the firstfruits of His re-creation … we who have been born again into new life by the indwelling of His Spirit. And just as our souls have been made new, one day our bodies will be redeemed. All of creation is groaning with anticipation, just as we do, for the glory to come.
In the mean time, why do good things happen to any of us? James declares, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” (James 1:17). And God is not prejudicial in this regard; “For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matt 5:45). ” 18 Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.” (James 1:17–18).
So, the next time someone asks or you find yourself wondering “why do bad things happen” … remember and declare the glorious, incomparable hope that belongs to all who are redeemed, made new, and being made new by the precious blood of Jesus, the Lamb of God!
50 I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” 55 “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” (1 Cor 15:50–55)