Why do bad things happen to good people? – Greg Laurie – www.worldnetdaily.com and www.harvest.org
Why does God allow bad things to happen to good – and even godly people?
That question brings us to one of the greatest – and most tragic – stories in all the Bible. The book of Job. One of the principal things this book does is to help us think through this whole issue of the goodness of God – and how it touches a world and a human race under the curse of sin.
Most of us can accept the idea of suffering in general, especially as an outcome or consequence of bad behavior. In other words, if someone lives a reckless, wicked life, committing horrible atrocities, and faces the repercussions of those deeds, we say, "They got what they deserved. It was poetic justice."
We can accept the idea of suffering in circumstances like those. But how does it strike us when an innocent and godly person suffers?
That was the case with Job, a man who not only avoided doing wrong, but also worked very hard to do what was right. So much so, in fact, that God actually bragged on his righteousness and integrity before the hosts of heaven.
That was right before the bottom dropped out of Job’s life, and everything changed.
Job was a real, historical, flesh-and-blood man who many scholars feel walked the earth during the time of the patriarchs, somewhere between 2000 and 1800 B.C., living in the land of Uz. Uz was a real place and Job was a real man with real problems with a real God to whom he turned – the very same God you and I can turn to in our times of need.
Job was a man of complete integrity, fearing God and avoiding evil. He had seven sons and three daughters, had vast herds of sheep, camels, oxen and donkeys, and employed many servants.
Job raised his children in the way of the Lord and brought them before God in prayer every day without fail. Here was a dad who was concerned about the spiritual lives of his kids and prayed every day that they would steer clear of sin and walk with God.
But beyond Job’s physical sight, something was about to happen in the spiritual realm that would affect his life in a profound way.
One day the members of the heavenly court came to present themselves before the Lord, and the Accuser, Satan, came with them. "Where have you come from?" the Lord asked Satan.
Satan answered the Lord, "I have been patrolling the earth, watching everything that’s going on."
Then the Lord asked Satan, "Have you noticed my servant Job? He is the finest man in all the earth. He is blameless – a man of complete integrity. He fears God and stays away from evil."
Satan replied to the Lord, "Yes, but Job has good reason to fear God. You have always put a wall of protection around him and his home and his property. You have made him prosper in everything he does. Look how rich he is! But reach out and take away everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face!"
"All right, you may test him," the Lord said to Satan. "Do whatever you want with everything he possesses, but don’t harm him physically." So Satan left the Lord’s presence. (Job 1:6-12, NLT)
Talk about having friends – and enemies – in high places! God was so proud of Job He was bragging on him.
The fact is, God has placed a hedge around every person who has put his faith in Jesus Christ – and it is an impregnable fortress that Satan and his demons cannot penetrate. Whatever comes your way, then, must have God’s permission. Just as God protected Job, so He will protect you.
You might ask the question, "Well, what if this or what if that happens? I saw this tragedy befall a friend of mine, and I couldn’t handle that if that happened to me."
That’s likely true. Right at this moment, you couldn’t handle it. But if God allowed that particular circumstance in your life, He would also give you the strength to endure that trial.
In Job’s case, his whole world caved in on one day, really, in a matter of moments. You can read the shocking details in Job Chapter 1, but in essence, he lost his livestock, his servants and all 10 of his beloved children. Soon thereafter, he lost his health.
And how did he respond?
Job stood up and tore his robe in grief. Then he shaved his head and fell to the ground before God. He said,
"I came naked from my mother’s womb,
and I will be stripped of everything when I die.
The Lord gave me everything I had,
and the Lord has taken it away.
Praise the name of the Lord!"
In all of this, Job did not sin by blaming God. (Job 1:20-22, NLT)
His losses in those horrific few hours are almost incomprehensible. In one day, Job, one of the wealthiest men in the land, lost everything – all his assets, so wisely and carefully built up through the years. His trusted servants – what we might call loyal, longtime employees – had all perished in a string of supernatural disasters.
But the worst news of all on this day was to hear that his children – his pride and joy – had all been killed. Wiped out in a moment.
I can tell you that this is the worst thing that can happen to a mother or a father. No parent ever wants to outlive his or her children. We spend our lives caring for them, nurturing them, loving them, and investing our hopes and dreams in them. For most loving fathers and mothers, to lose a child is a fate literally worse than death.
We have much to learn from this story of Job. In his letter to the church, the apostle James wrote, "As you know, we consider blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy" (James 5:11).
That’s the key word here. The book of Job teaches us how to persevere – hang in there – when we go through heartaches and hard times. Because it’s not a matter of if some kind of calamity, trial, sickness, or difficulty will strike you or someone you love. It’s a matter of when.
You may not think you could even live through such a terrible series of trials, but if God allowed you to go through a season like that – for reasons perhaps known only to Him – He would certainly bring you through.
He might not give you all the answers your heart longs for, but He will give you all the grace your heart needs.