If God is good, why do bad things happen?
Updated: Sep 14, 2020
This question is often the fork in the road of faith. Answered correctly, it leads to an abundant and resilient place of peace. Answered incorrectly, it leads to a dangerous place of frustration and fear.
As I mentioned in more detail in a previous post (trial ——> testimony), four years and one week ago, my mom passed away very suddenly. I was a sophomore in college at Liberty university and my mom was a single mom. She contracted a severe respiratory infection and it took her life within 48 hours. I was devastated. To add onto this, my attempt to drive back to Florida and see her before she passed was unsuccessful as I couldn‘t make it back in time. She died about 2 hours before I got there.
That night was a blur and I don’t remember much, but I will never forget the sorrow I felt. I wept for what seemed like hours over the loss of the person who meant everything to me. She was my financial support, my emotional rock and all around cheerleader. I loved my mom dearly and she was gone.
Now, I want to ask you a question: Is that a good thing? Most would say absolutely not. A 20 year old kid losing his single mom whom he loved more than any one is an extremely sad situation and would not be considered good in any sense of the word. But, what if I told you that your answer to my previous question is the door that leads to answering the main question of “Is God is good, why do bad things happen?” What if I told you that it’s our definition of “Good” and “Bad” that allows us to properly navigate the tension of living in a world where bad things happen in the midst of us being created by and serving a good God.
Remember this: God‘s definition of good is probably different than your definition of good. Our definition of “good” is what makes us feel good. Promotions, desserts, puppies, money and so on are examples of good things in our minds. Why? Because it feels good to be promoted, eat cake, pet a dog and have tons of cash to spend. But, God’s definition of good is less about what makes us feel good, and all about what makes Him glorified.
Multiple times in scripture God is glorified and honored in things that most people wouldn’t consider good. A popular example being in the book of Job where God essentially provides Satan permission to dismantle Job’s family, finances and faith. Towards the end of chap. 1 Job is not feeling to hot considering his kids are dead, livestock is gone and his spirits are shattered, but he continues to thank God by saying “Praise the God who gives and takes away.” God is extremely pleased and honored in this moment and later even gives Job above and beyond what he lost.
God’s benchmark for what is Good and what is not is different than ours. The issue is not that God is being inconsistent in his actions. The issue is our faulty, feelings - based definition.
Since my mom has passed away, I have shared that story multiple times. On stages and in small groups. I have seen people get saved, find encouragement and harbor hope as a result of the sharing of my story. ALSO, my mom became a Christian six months before she passed, so we can rest assured she is healed in Heaven. So, the question can be asked again from a different perspective: Is that a good thing? With the new perspective, the answer is yes - it’s a very good thing. Is it hard? Absolutely. But, not bad - because God is being honored and glorified.
So, as you battle hard times and difficult circumstances, remember: God is good and can see the whole picture. The next time you bump up against a tough situation like a break up, job loss or even a death of loved one focus on getting better, not growing bitter. Ask yourself the question: WHAT can I get out of this? Rather than: HOW can I get out of this?
Fight the good fight, remain strong and never forget: we serve a God who is in the business taking what looks like bad cirucmstances and turning them into good purposes.