In recent years, there have been a number of books that have been released and have received much attention like, When Bad Things Happen to Good People (first published in 1981, but this book saw a huge resurgence in popularity after 9/11), Why Bad Things Happen to Good People, etc. All of these ask the question, “Why, God? Why do I have to suffer this illness? Why does my child have leukemia? Why?” And when bad times come, Christians crumble into doubt and questions and wonder where God is.
They begin to think, ‘If all these bad things are happening to me, a good person, then does God really exist? Where is He? Why isn’t He stopping these things from happening? Does He really love me like He says He does?’ They become, for all intents and purposes, practical atheists.
That is, they become practical atheists if these thoughts aren’t kept in check. There’s nothing wrong with questioning God. Abraham did it, Job did it, David did too, and he was a man after God’s own heart (see Acts 13:22). The difference was: Their faith in God was solid. They knew His promises (His Word), they believed it, and they held onto it even in the midst of their troubles. They knew that God would deliver them…somehow. They understood that, as author Robert J. Morgan puts it in his book, The Red Sea Rules: “[T]he Lord is in the business of delivering His people…in His own way…in His own time…for His own glory.”
A couple of weeks ago, I was at church on a Sunday night, and the parenting class I had been attending was canceled, so I sat with my husband in the other class, which was going over the video study of Acts of God. The idea behind it is basically the same as the previously mentioned books. A tragedy affects the lives of six people (all believers), who are asking why God allows so much pain to affect those who love Him. It’s the same old complaint: “I’m a good person, so why is such a bad thing happening to me?”
But Yeshua said that no one but God is good (Mark 10:18). The Greek word used there for “good” is agathos, which has several definitions and connotations, but certainly the most relevant here in this passage, since the rich young ruler starts out by calling Yeshua “Good Teacher” is “excellent, distinguished, upright, and honorable.”
Do you see why Yeshua would say what He did? No one is upright and honorable, except God. We’ve all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Every single one of us. Not one of us is at all righteous or good (Romans 3:10). We like to think we’re good because we go to church or because we do this or that…but the only goodness we have in us – the only hint of righteousness we have – comes directly from Yeshua through the Holy Spirit. The goodness is not in us. It’s in Him.
The second argument I want to make is that bad things don’t ever really “happen”… not in the way these books and movies describe. The word “happen” connotes something unexpected, and of course, sometimes things do come into our lives that are unexpected…FOR US. But nothing ever comes as a surprise to God. He is the Master Designer, the Orchestrator of All Life and Eventuality. Nothing occurs in this world – in anyone’s life – that does not pass through His hand first.
My Grammy used to say, “Life is hard, and then you die.” She passed away last November, so her suffering is finally over. The fact is, life is hard. It really is. When Adam sinned in the garden, he ushered in sin and evil that would affect all of creation until the Lord returns and sets it all right again. But God is good. He will set it all right. In His time. In the meantime, we have to keep walking and trusting and living for Him – depending on Him in all circumstances. As I said before in a recent blog post, God wants us to be dependent on Him for, and obedient to Him in, everything.
He’ll take all the bad and use it for His glory…if we’ll let Him.