Why bad things happen to good people is a question we’ve all heard a lot. After all, while it is terrible to see good people suffer. It is also unpleasant to observe evil people enjoying themselves.
However, it must be acknowledged that this question is ask innocently by individuals who genuinely want to comprehend what appears to be incomprehensible. Sometimes those who have experienced loss and grief or whose loved ones have done so ask. Questions like, “How could God allow this to happen to me and mine?” are asked. Why wouldn’t God relieve my suffering and facilitate me?
Eternity Makes the Difference
Those who would reject God, such as materialists and atheists, think that after death, everything is over. We are nothing more than dust and mere worm food; life is over. It is finished. These people see pain for what it is—pure, unadulterated suffering devoid of any redeeming value. The person who bravely and without complaint faces suffering may be considered to have a certain intangible quality of heroism in the eyes of the atheist. One might wonder why this act of bravery would be noteworthy in any way if we are all just body and flesh with no soul or spirit, nothing more than the contaminants of a selfish gene.
The agnostic, however, is convinced that these years we spend on earth—possibly 80 or more if we’re lucky, and only a few if we’re not—are all we have and represent the entirety of the human experience. Christians, on the other hand, hold that although these years on earth are significant and should be used wisely and enjoyed, they are only a means to an end because there will be a much better life after them. They are, in fact, a sliver of the great sunshine that is eternity and life in God’s presence in heaven. As Mary Queen of Scots put it, “My end is my beginning.” She was beheaded on the spot, and her demise came at the point of an axe on the advice of Queen Elizabeth I, her half-sister. Queen Mary was certain that there was an existence beyond that on earth.
God Awakens Us through Pain
The Bible makes more predictions about a believer’s struggle on earth than it does about success and gain. Christians hold that this life is only a land of shadows and that real life is still to come. So yes, even bad things happen to good people.
Some may contend that Christianity is merely a justification for avoiding the harsh realities of life, but this is no more rational than contending that atheism is merely a justification for avoiding the harsh realities of judgment and the idea of an eternity spent apart from God.
But the more crucial point is that the oft-repeated criticism that God isn’t to blame. When bad things happen to good people says everything about people. Even though it may not be pleasant, both joy and pain are merely emotions. However, pain is more than just a sign of suffering. It also serves as a deterrent and a means of defense. The possibility of pain exists, and, inevitably, we will all experience it at some point. Whether the pain is the result of human action or the will of God, however, is a completely different matter.
Because we have the freedom to act however we please, the all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-good God permits us to suffer, just as he permits us to experience all kinds of other things. But if we only pay attention to him, he has also made a place with the greatest contentment we can imagine.