People have been wrestling with this question for centuries. This is a very real, very deep and often very personal question. Each of us has experienced hard times and some people have endured unimaginable pain and suffering.
The Bible doesn’t gloss over the hard stuff by telling Christians to blindly ignore the bad bits of life. It is gritty, real and addresses our concerns. Three things I want to touch on:
Why the world is the way it is today
Christians understand God is good and he created the world we live in to be perfect. There was nothing bad, or painful, or hard. When he lovingly made humans he gave us the ability to both obey him and disobey him. He warned the first people there would be consequences if they did not obey him – death.
Unfortunately the first humans disobeyed God – and each generation follows this pattern. Just like God warned, this choice comes at a cost.
This is where it gets hard. The consequences for not following our creator’s advice are devastating: death, disease, hardship, hunger and pain. All of these bad things are the results of this choice.
We don’t know why the consequences are harder for some people. This is one of the hardest questions for any Christian.
God’s goodness helps put the bad stuff into perspective
Pain and suffering are worthy of our sorrow. God knows, just like we do, that the bad things in the world are not good and perfect like the world he created.
We know God has compassion on all he has made. We see God showing people mercy, comfort and faithfulness in the midst of the hard things they face. He does not always remove the bad things but he is always working (even in the bad stuff) for the good of people that trust in him. This shows us God’s goodness.
But God does more than just put a band aid on our pain.
Why God’s goodness gives us hope
God knew we could not deal with the bad stuff by ourselves. No matter how hard we try we cannot escape death, rid the world of disease, or eliminate hatred. So God came into our broken, messed up world. God became human in the form of Jesus.
Jesus lived and died in this world and deeply understands the suffering we face. Even though he obeyed God perfectly he also experienced physically and emotionally hard times.
Because he lived a perfect life Jesus was able to defeat death – he came back to life. Because of Jesus God says he will make all things new.
The final book of the Bible describes a vision of what God will do. It describes the kind of life people who put their trust in Jesus will live once God brings an end to the bad stuff once and for all. There will be no more tears, pain, hunger, disease or death.
No matter who you are – whether you believe in God or not – answering the question, ‘why do bad things happen?’ is important. Even Christians (me included!) have doubts and sometimes struggle to make sense of the pain we feel. However, in the midst of pain we can trust in God’s goodness and have hope in the future we have been promised through Jesus.