Matthew is a Christian who loves God. He's been an online writer for 5 years. He loves to share his faith with people all over the world.
Many people today suffer unexpected, painful events. Such terrible events that cause great emotional turmoil, grief and heartache are not new. This has been happening for ages, whether the death of a spouse or a brutal divorce or loss of one’s life saving, etc. One question that people are tempted to ask when they face such things in life is “why is this happening to me?” “Have I offended God or man?”
This question is actually poisonous because it seems to assume that you’ve either done something evil for which you’re getting your recompense or you’re too good a person for this to be happening to you, hence, why should something bad happen to you who is a good, nice person.
The truth is, bad things can happen to anyone—whether they’re good or bad. However, there’s this misconception that it’s those who’re good that gets plagued the most with evil occurrences. People generally believe that because a person is good, he shouldn’t suffer bad; but those who are bad should certainly suffer.
This misconception occurs because people are either prejudiced in their view of life or that’s seems to be the experience of people. Hence, because people feel it doesn’t seem fair for a good person to suffer, hence, we shall tackle the question, “why do bad things happen to good people?”
1. God Allowed It
When a bad thing happens, it’s very important to know God’s mind and his perspective about whatever happens. The mistake many people make is that think God caused it. This is an extreme view because God doesn’t do anything on the earth without man. For example, God didn’t drive the car that had an accident. God didn’t kill the people that died in a war. God didn’t commit the robbery where one’s life saving was taken. God didn’t—man did.
However, it’s not possible for anything on the earth to happen without God being aware of it. Think of God like a big camera man that’s meticulously looking at everything that’s happening on the earth yet doesn’t participate in them. He allows it to happen; he saw it happen; he let man cause it to happen; he might not want it to happen but he didn’t do anything to stop or start whatever happens.
The scriptures says, "Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground without your father’s leave (consent) and notice. But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered (Matt. 10:29-30, Amp. Bible). God watches over the activities of men. He only interferes in rare cases in form of miracles and supernatural manifestation, however, man has to give him to license to do that. If you don’t invite him, he won’t participate.
God needs license to interfere in the affairs of men because he gave the earth to man to govern, while he takes charge of the activities of heaven (Psalm 115:16). God is a spirit. The earth was given to man, not spirits. A spirit must either enter a man to carry out his activity on the earth or get invoked by man’s petition. This petition is what we call prayer. Myles Munroe’s defined prayer as earthly license for heavenly inference. When a spirit gets invoked, he gets his license to carry out certain activities on the earth. Prayer is the means by which God is given license to interfere on the earth.
Having said that, who should we blame when bad things happen to us? Should we blame God? Certainly not. God is not to blame for whatever thing that happens on earth—even if it’s a good thing that happened. When a good thing happens, the first person that ought to get the credit is man because he either allows himself to be used by God or invites God to interfere in the situation or he makes it happen himself.
God only allows things to happen—good or bad; he doesn’t carry out the activity. He allows bad things to happen, as we’ll see, to prove to us that he can change any bad situation and turn it around for good.
2. You’re Defying A Law
Man is the primary reason for everything that happen on the earth. The scriptures describes God as love. He has more love in himself than all of us put together. However, a loving God could allow evil to happen if man defies God’s universal law. There are certain principles that govern the earth—put in place by God. And if a man violates that principles or law, he does so to his own detriment. For example, if a man violates the law of gravity, he caused his death—not God.
The same thing applies to anyone that defies or violates the law of electricity and other scientific, universal and natural law that rule the earth.
In the same way that we defy the law of gravity and it backfires on us, most likely, when we have an unpalatable experience, it’s because we’ve gone against a law that’s backfiring on us. It’s just that some of these law are beyond us only understood by God, hence, he’s really the One that can give a convincing explanation for the things we experience—even though he chooses to be quiet most times about what he’s working on.
The scriptures, however, is the word of God, and we are given snippets of instructions on how life ought to be, and going against this could wreak havoc on us. Just like Jonah in the bible, God could give us an instruction, yet, whether due to ignorance or by conscious decision, we disobey what God said, ultimately, there would be a consequence and this could result in an unwanted, evil occurrence.
Since we cannot list every problem in the world and give the reasons for every single bad thing that happens, we can, however, attempt to give a general reason as to why bad things do happen.
Again, most times, we’re defying a law or disobeying an instruction, that’s why bad things happen. One of God’s law and instruction that we must not defy is the law of love. As the scriptures clearly tell us that the greatest command of God to man is to love God, and love people. Hence, defying this law causes problem.
Even science has revealed that the feel of animosity, hatred, un-forgiveness, malice etc., can cause malfunctioning and serious chemical imbalance to occurring our body system. The could cause heart attack, diabetes, cancer and all kinds of terrible illnesses. Living the love life toward everyone could stop bad things from happening to your body.
God, planning to do away with the impossible ordinances of the law gave us a new commandment: The commandment of love (John 13:34). Hence, since the law of love is the law of the New covenant and the greatest commandment given to us by God, I believe that every problem we have among one another stems from disobedience of this one law—the law of love. Notice, you don’t have to be the one disobeying this law of love, a self-centered, loveless person could take a gun and shoot an innocent person on the street, he clearly doesn’t have any love for the person he shot dead. So the problem is the killer lacks love for his neighbor.
3. God Needs Your Attention
God wants us to love our neighbor. But he also wants us to love him. If we don’t love him, we won’t obey him; we won’t give him attention; we won’t love our neighbor. Hence, one reason bad things happen to people is because God is trying to fix our focus back on him and what he’s telling us.
Jesus, in John 14:15 says, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” Jonah certainly, wasn’t keeping God’s commandment here. He intentionally drifted from God and chose to disobey him (Jonah 1:2)
There are many bad things that could happen in life that would break your heart but fix your focus. For Jonah, he certainly lost his focus and the only way God could get his attention was for him to let him experience a certain evil that calmed down his stubborn nerves and made him change his focus and alter his attitude from rebellious to obedient.
Jonah had initially gotten into a ship that he was going to use to run away from God (Jonah 1:2). But Jonah didn’t know God has many ways to get our attention.
- He literally flung a violent wind against the ship Jonah was in (Jonah 1:4).
- He exposed his disobedience (Jonah 1:7-8).
- He threw him into the belly of a fish.
All of these was because God wanted Jonah back; God needed to fix his focus back on him.
Sometimes, like Jonah, God is just trying to get our attention to tell us we’re going the wrong way. But the only way that really comes across to us is usually a strong and upsetting event—usually one you don’t like.
As a result of this, you need to make sure God is your first love so you can be willing to listen and hear everything he’s telling you. So, he won’t have to try to “get” your attention. Certainly, this attempt to get our attention and change our focus is an act of love on the part of God. Things would been worse off if God hadn’t brought us back and set us on course again.
4. He’s Got Something Better In Store for You
Another reason a bad thing could happen, especially when a loss is involved, is usually because God has a bigger, better thing in store for you. If for example, you lose your spouse, it could be because God has a better future for you with or without a spouse.
If you lose you studentship in the university, God has a better future in store for you with or without university education. Perhaps, he doesn’t want you to live your life doing what you were taught at the university. Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and other great entrepreneurs never finished college. Perhaps, God is the “better things” that you’d find when you lose people or things or a desire that you cherish dearly.
Ever heard the saying, no pain no gain? God sometimes uses what we don’t like to prepare us for something we’d definitely like. The sad truth is we don’t grow in good times. But when trouble comes, we get pushed into the great purpose of God for us.
Rejection is a kind of loss that could cause grief. There are many cases of rejection that ended up as a blessing. God uses rejection as the impetus to push man into greatness.
- Jack Ma, Alibaba founder and the richest man in China was rejected from EVERY job he applied after college. At KFC, he applied for a job and was the only one rejected out of all the 24applicants.
- J.K. Rollings, the billionaire novelist was rejected by 12 major publishing houses in the UK.
- Walt Disney was turned down 302 times before getting financing for his dream of creating Disney World.
- Colonel Sanders, KFC founder was rejected 1009 times before finding a taker for his chicken recipe.
- Michael Jordan, who’s arguably the greatest basket baller that ever lived, was cut from his varsity basketball team in his sophomore year because he wasn’t good enough.
- Jesus was rejected and killed by his very own when he came to earth, but the scriptures said about him: "The stone which the builders rejected, this became the very corner stone" (1 Peter 2:9).
- Joseph was hated, rejected and sold into slavery by his own brothers to Egypt, but he ended up becoming the second most powerful man in Egypt, next to Pharaoh.
When you’re rejected, God doesn’t forsake you. The scriptures declare, “For my father and my mother have forsaken me, But the LORD will take me up” (Psalm 27:10). God allows the rejection to happen because he’s waiting to take you up and make things better for you.
Many times, we don’t know that God really has a better future in store for us. No matter the loss or rejection you face, always remember that no one is indispensable and nothing is irreplaceable—except God. If you lose anything in your life it’s because God has an even better replacement or a better alternative for us. He’ll always be there for you.
God loves you and all hope is not lost when God is still alive. You might not understand what’s happening, but because he allowed it, you can be rest assured that he’s got you covered. He’s got a better alternative for every loss.
5. The Concept of Duality
If we’re going to understand why bad things happen, we must understand the concept of duality. In fact, understanding life requires understanding the concept of duality. This concept is also a universal law and it cannot be revoked.
In Ecclesiastes 3, God explains the duality of life and death. The duality of life and death teaches us that every aspect of life is created from a balanced interaction of opposite and competing forces. God put duality on the earth so we shouldn’t expect things to remain one way. He said if we’re alive now, there’s going to come a time when death will come knocking at the door; if we’re happy now, sadness could catch up with us anytime. The principle is, there are 2 sides of life—the good part and the bad part.
Ecclesiastes 3:1–8, “There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven—A time to give birth and a time to die; A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted. A time to kill and a time to heal; A time to tear down and a time to build up. A time to weep and a time to laugh; A time to mourn and a time to dance. A time to throw stones and a time to gather stones; A time to embrace and a time to shun embracing. A time to search and a time to give up as lost; A time to keep and a time to throw away. A time to tear apart and a time to sew together; A time to be silent and a time to speak. A time to love and a time to hate; A time for war and a time for peace.”
God prepares us in this passage to deal with the duality in life. He contrasts 14 differing activities to show you that this is the nature of life and it’s what we should expect as human beings on the earth. It is normal. There is nothing wrong if you experience duality because God’s expects it and so should you.
George Will, Pulitzer prize-winning journalist and author says, “The future has a way of arriving unannounced.” This statement goes to affirm that as much as there are changes in our physical bodies in terms of growth and development, there’ll also be changes in the events that occur in our lives – duality is inevitable. Our lives are in constant state of transition. No matter who you are—regardless of your country, race, religion, or sex—you can’t escape the experience of duality.
It might seem like being negative but we have to be prepared for situations that don’t really look pleasant because we can’t stop God’s universal plan and principle. The truth is good times won’t continue forever; neither will bad times. Most of life’s disappointment comes from trying to keep things the way they are or expecting thing to remain the same. Yet, that’s not God’s plan.
When bad things happen, it might not necessarily be because you’re doing something bad, it might just be nature taking its course in duality, and duality certainly has a purpose: A better future ahead. Hence, ensure you don’t give up and don’t take your own life. You need to acknowledge God and give him the honor of allowing him do whatever he wants with your life.
Again, never forget, don’t ask why me—especially in the negative sense of asking. Because anything can happen to anybody. And when it happens, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s because you’ve done something wrong. It’s just God’s universal plan—having a better life in store for you than what you probably thought.
Of course, in the middle of God’s plan, there might be a lot of darkness and confusion, but Jeremiah 29:11 says, 'For I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.
Understanding what’s happening fully or seeing a possibly brighter future in the midst of the storm might be impossible, but have it at the back of your mind that at the end of it all, everything will be alright if you don’t lose hope. God plan is ultimately the best.
© 2019 Matthew Joseph
Bisola mary on August 15, 2020:
Nice writeup! Thanks for the insight