FAITH SEEKING UNDERSTANDING: Chapter 9: Why do bad things happen to good people?

by Steve Albertin

Given the current pan-demic that is wreaking suffering and havoc upon so much of the world, one of the oldest and most persistent questions that both Christians and non-Christians have asked is now acutely relevant:

Or, why do bad things happen to good people?


Welcome to the latest episode of Faith Seeking Understanding, where we as the crossings community respond to a variety of ordinary questions raised by ordinary people about the basics of human life and culture. And holy scripture, today’s question that we’re going to be addressing here is one of the most widely asked questions by Christians and non-Christians alike, and perhaps one of the most fundamental of all questions. Namely, why do bad things happen to good people? And sort of a question that’s very similar to underlies that is a question about God. Why does an all powerful and all loving God permit such horrible things in this world, suffering and evil and pain and disaster? Why do bad things happen to good people? We can all think of so many examples of the senseless and horrible things that happen in people’s lives, undeserved suffering. The Christian tradition’s inability over the years to really give an adequate answer to questions like this, I think contributes to the problems of doubt and skepticism, and even the growing atheism of our age.

Where is God when there are so many horrible things happening in our world? It’s got gone. Is God there? Does God even exist? Is God silent? Is he absent? One of the classic examples in scriptures of this kind of question is the story in the Old Testament of job, job was the ultimate good guy. Worship God was blessed until suddenly it’s all taken him from him. Tremendous suffering, even with the permission of God, which even makes it seem all the more horrible for chapters. Job goes on demanding an answer, an explanation. Why God have you let this happen to me? I don’t deserve this. And he never really gets an answer in the whole book. Another classic New Testament example is Jesus. Jesus, the perfect, sinless son of God, the ultimate good guy. And yet he must go to the cross and suffer and die undeservedly, so ultimately forsaken by God. So here we are left with this impossible problem, this unresolvable dilemma is God, all powerful is God all


Loving. How can he be both when there is so much suffering going on in this world like this, people can be good and bad things happen. Why God? And there never seems to be an answer. Silence, doubt, despair. We cannot believe in a God, A God who is not all powerful. How can you believe in a God who doesn’t really have the power? Isn’t that what a God is, or God is not all loving? Why would we want to have a God who’s not loving and caring for us? What is the answer? What is the explanation? We will never get one. It is a question that the Christian tradition never really answers. Namely, why do bad things happen to good people? But where we don’t get an explanation, we do get a solution. And that is the real good news of the Christian faith, the tradition and scriptures and that solution, that response, that answer if you will, to undeserved suffering is God.

In Jesus Christ, is God all loving? Yes, of course, you look at that story of Jesus Christ and God suffers with us all the way to death on the cross, God suffers, undeserved suffering with us. We are not alone. God is with us. So we can trust that God is a loving God all the way to the tomb. But Jesus Christ was not just an innocent sufferer who got run over and died on the cross. Rather, on the third day, he was raised from the dead. God’s power finally overcame all the powers of sin and death and suffering so that God’s love remains thwarted by all the good and bad and horrible things in this world. In Jesus Christ, we are offered not an explanation to an unanswerable question. No, rather, we are given a solution to an unsolvable problem. How can I believe in an all loving and all powerful God in the face of a world filled with such undeserved suffering answer because of God’s love and the crucified and risen Jesus Christ? And for that, thanks be to God.

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