Updated: Feb 8, 2019
Why do Bad Things Happen to Good People?
By: Lizzie Williams
As I planned out this devotional, I was sitting in the ICU waiting room. On the other side of the doors was my dying, agnostic grandpa. Now as I sit and write this, it has been two weeks since he has passed away, and my family is unsure if we will ever see him again. To be frank, it really sucks. We’ve all gone through trials, and we all know that they are not fun. Often times they leave us feeling hopeless, sad, or angry at God. We might ask why he would let this happen to us or if he’s even real. If this is you, you’re not alone. This is something all Christians and all people go through. So why do bad things happen to good people? Why does God let his children go through trials?
To answer these questions, I turned to the Bible. God is so cool because when we ask questions, he has already answered; we just need to read and listen. He answered me with four possible reasons of why we face trials.
First, some trials are self-inflicted. We see this in the story of David, specifically in 2 Samuel 12:1-25. At this point in his life, David is king, but he’s a king who made a big mistake. David slept with a married woman, Bathsheba, and then had her husband killed. As a consequence, David’s son, the child he had with Bathsheba, died. Now, I’m not saying that God is going to start killing off those whom you love, but I’m saying that you can’t expect to live in sin and not see consequences. God is a loving father; therefore, he disciplines his children (Hebrews 12:7). So, don’t gossip about all your friends and then wonder why you don’t have friends anymore. Don’t cheat on your boyfriend and wonder why he left you.
Of course, there have also been many trials I have faced that I had no control over. Rather than my trials being self-inflicted, sometimes they are enemy-inflicted. Life would be really awesome if it was just us and God and no enemy. But we aren’t in heaven yet, and until we get there, we have an enemy who prowls the earth like a lion, trying to lead us astray (1 Peter 5:8). Priscilla Shirer once said that the enemy “knows he can’t destroy you, so [instead] he will try to discourage you.” Need a biblical example of this? Just look at the book of Job; Satan wreaks havoc on Job’s life all to try to pull him away from God. But even when we are under enemy fire, we have a God who is looking out for us. We also have the armor of God to prepare us for battle.
But trials can also have the opposite effect. Instead of pulling us away from God, they can actually bring us closer and allow us to grow in spiritual maturity. This is the third reason we face trials. John 15 paints a picture of God pruning the branches of a grape vine, so that it can bear more fruit. For those of you who don’t know, pruning is just a fancy way of saying cutting, and it is essential to obtain high quality grapes. I don’t know if any of you have ever been cut, but it hurts; it’s not a pleasant experience. But, if God were not to prune the grape vine, there would be too many clusters and none of them would ripen. In the same way, if we were to never face trials, why would we need faith in a God that saves and how would we grow? It’s simple: if there were no trials, we would never grow. Additionally, Romans 5:3-4 shows that suffering leads to perseverance which leads to character which leads to hope. Through trials, we grow.
Lastly, I believe we may face trials so that as we mature spiritually we are able to help brothers and sisters who are facing those same trials. This allows us to build community, “encourage one another and build each other up” as mentioned in 1 Thessalonians 5:11.
So, what do we do when we face these trials? While my go-to is usually Ben and Jerry’s, it should really be God. We need to trust God; know that he has delivered us before, and he will deliver us again. And know that these trials are temporary. In fact, even if a trial were to last your entire life, it’s still temporary when compared to the eternity we will spend with God. And in that eternity, there will be no pain or suffering; not even a tear will be shed (Revelation 21:4). But (thank God!) most trials don’t last our whole lifetime on earth, so don’t worry! Just trust Jesus and you will have peace (John 16:33). Lastly, expect to face trials. Don’t be a pessimist but be realistic. Peter says not to be surprised when we face “fiery ordeals” (1 Peter 4:12); Paul says that “everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12). Know that you will have to go through some tough stuff in life, but also know you’re not alone. God loves you, and all your Theta Alpha sisters love you as well. You will get through this.
Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love Him. – James 1:12
By Lizzie Williams