This is one of the most common questions asked of theologians.
Actually everyone experiences bad stuff at some time or another.
People also ask why do good things happen for bad people?
I think that this whole question "begs" us to ask other very relevant questions such as,
"Who is really good anyway?"
or "Why do bad things occur at all?"
or "Where or when did bad 'stuff' (suffering) start or originate?"
From God's point of view, according to Scripture, there are no good or righteous people.
Ecclesiastes 7:20 says, "There is not a righteous man on earth,
who continually does good and who never sins."
Romans 3:10-12 describes mankind saying in verse 10, "There is none righteous,"
and in verse 12, "There is no one who does good." (See also Psalms 14:1-3 and Psalms 53:1-3.)
No one stands before God, in and of himself, as "good".
That is not to say that a bad person, or anyone for that matter, can never do a good deed.
This is speaking of continuous behavior, not a single act.
So why does God say that no one is "good" when we see people as good to bad
with "many shades of gray in between."
Where then should we draw a line between who is good and who is bad,
and what about the poor soul who is "on the line."
God says it this way in Romans 3:23, "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,"
and in Isaiah 64:6 it says, "all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment."
Our good deeds are tainted by pride, self gain, impure motives or some other sin.
Romans 3:19 says that all the world has become "guilty before God."
James 2:10 says, "Whoever offends in one point is guilty of all."
In verse 11 it says "you have become a lawbreaker."
So how did we get here as a human race and how does it affect what happens to us.
It all started with Adam's sin and also our sin, because every person sins, just as Adam did.
Psalm 51:5 shows us we are born with a sinful nature.
It says, "I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me."
Romans 5:12 tells us that, "sin entered the world through one man (Adam)."
Then it says, "and death through sin." (Romans 6:23 says, "the wages of sin is death.")
Death entered the world because God pronounced a curse upon Adam
for his sin which caused physical death to enter the world (Genesis 3:14-19).
Actual physical death did not occur at once, but the process was begun.
So as a result, illness, tragedy and death happen to all of us,
no matter where we fall on our "gray scale."
When death entered the world, all suffering entered with it, all as a result of sin.
And so we all suffer, for "all have sinned."
To simplify, Adam sinned and death and suffering came to all men because all have sinned.
Psalms 89:48 says, "what man can live and not see death,
or save himself from the power of the grave."
(Read Romans 8:18-23.)
Death happens to all, not just to those we perceive as bad, but also to those we perceive as good.
(Read Romans chapters 3-5 to understand God's truth.)
In spite of this fact, in other words, despite our deserving death, God continues to send us His blessings.
God does call some people good, in spite of the fact that we all sin.
For instance, God said Job was upright.
So what determines if a person is bad or good and upright in God's eyes?
God had a plan to forgive our sins and make us righteous.
Romans 5:8 says, "God demonstrated His love for us in this: while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."
John 3:16 says, "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son,
that whoever believes on Him should not perish but have everlasting life." (See also Romans 5:16-18.)
Romans 5:4 tells us that, "Abraham believed God
and it was credited (counted) to him as righteousness."
Abraham was declared righteous by faith.
Verse five says that if anyone has faith like Abraham they too are declared righteous.
It is not earned, but given as a gift when we believe on His Son Who died for us. (Romans 3:28)
Romans 4:22-25 states, "the words, 'it was credited to him' were not for him alone
but also for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead.
Romans 3:22 makes it clear what we must believe saying,
"this righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe,"
because (Galatians 3:13), "Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse
for us for it is written 'cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.'" (Read I Corinthians 15:1-4)
Believing is God's only requirement for our being made righteous.
When we believe we also are forgiven our sins.
Romans 4:7&8 says, "Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him."
When we believe we are 'born again" into God's family; we become His children. (See John 1:12.)
John 3 verses 18 & 36 show us that while those who believe have life,
those who do not believe are condemned already.
God proved that we would have life by raising Christ.
He is referred to as the firstborn from the dead.
I Corinthians 15:20 says that when Christ returns,
even if we die, He will also raise us up.
Verse 42 says that the new body will be imperishable.
So what does this mean for us, if we are all "bad" in God's sight
and deserve punishment and death, but God declares those "upright" who believe in His Son,
what effect does this have on bad things happening to "good" people.
God sends good things to all, (Read Matthew 6:45) but all men suffer and die.
Why does God allow His children to suffer?
Until God gives us our new body we are still subject to physical death and whatever may cause it.
I Corinthians 15:26 says, "the last enemy to be destroyed is death."
There are several reasons why God allows this.
The best picture is in Job, whom God called upright.
I have numbered some of these reasons:
#1. There is warfare between God and Satan and we are involved.
We have all sung "Onward Christian Soldiers,"
but we forget so easily that the warfare is very real.
In the book of Job, Satan went to God and accused Job,
saying that the only reason he followed God was
because God blessed him with riches and health.
So God "allowed" Satan to test Job's loyalty with affliction;
but God put a "hedge" around Job (a limit to which Satan could cause his suffering).
Satan could only do what God allowed.
We see by this that Satan cannot afflict us or touch us except with God's permission and within limits.
God is always in control.
We also see that in the end, even though Job
was not perfect, testing God's reasons, he never denied God.
He blessed him beyond "all he could ask or think."
Psalms 97:10b (NIV) says, "He guards the lives of His faithful ones."
Romans 8:28 says, "We know that God causes all things
to work together for good to those who love God."
This is God's promise to all believers.
He does and will protect us and He always has a purpose.
Nothing is random and He always will bless us – bring about good with it.
We are in a conflict and some suffering may be a result of this.
In this conflict Satan tries to discourage or even stop us from serving God.
He wants us to stumble or quit.
Jesus once said to Peter in Luke 22:31, "Simon, Simon,
Satan has demanded permission to sift you as wheat."
I Peter 5:8 states, "Your adversary the devil prowls around
like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour.
James 4:7b says, "Resist the devil and he will flee from you,"
and in Ephesians 6 we are told to "stand firm" by putting on the full armor of God.
In all of these tests God will teach us to be strong and stand as a loyal soldier;
that God is worthy of our trust.
We will see His power and deliverance and blessing.
I Corinthians 10:11 and 2 Timothy 3:15 teach us that the Old Testament Scriptures
were written for our instruction in righteousness.
In Job's case he may not have understood all (or any)
of the reasons for his suffering and neither may we.
#2. Another reason, which is also revealed in Job's story, is to bring glory to God.
When God proved Satan was wrong about Job, God was glorified.
In John 11:4 we see this when Jesus said, "This sickness is not unto death,
but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified."
God often chooses to heal us for His glory,
so we may become sure of His care for us or perhaps
as a witness to His Son, so others might believe in Him.
Psalm 109:26&27 says, "save me and let them know that this is Thy hand;
Thou, Lord, hast done it." Read also Psalm 50:15.
It says, "I will rescue you and you will honor me."
#3. Another reason we may suffer is that it teaches us obedience.
Hebrews 5:8 says, "Christ learned obedience by the things which He suffered."
John tells us that Jesus always did the Father's will
but He actually experienced it as a man when He went to the garden and prayed,
"Father, not my will but thine be done."
Philippians 2:5-8 shows us that Jesus "became obedient to death,
even death on the cross."
This was the Father's will.
We can say we will follow and obey – Peter did that and then stumbled by denying Jesus
– but we don't really obey until we actually face a test (a choice) and do the right thing.
Job learned to obey when he was tested by suffering
and refused to "curse God," and remained faithful.
Will we continue to follow Christ when He allows a test or will we give up and quit?
When Jesus' teaching became difficult to understand many disciples left – stopped following Him.
At that time He said to Peter, "will you also go away?"
Peter answered, "Where would I go; you have the words of eternal life."
Then Peter declared Jesus to be God's Messiah.
He made a choice.
This should be our response when tested.
#4. Christ's suffering also enabled Him to be our perfect High Priest and Intercessor,
understanding all our trials and life's hardships by actual experience as a human being. (Hebrews 7:25)
This is true for us also.
Suffering can make us mature and complete and enable us to comfort
and intercede (pray) for others who are suffering as we have.
It is part of making us mature (2 Timothy 3:15).
2 Corinthians 1:3-11 teaches us about this aspect of suffering.
It says, "the God of all comfort who comforts us in all our troubles,
so that we may comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we have ourselves received from God."
If you read this whole passage you learn a lot about suffering, as you can also from Job.
1). That God will show His comfort and care.
2). God will show you He is able to deliver you. and
3). We learn to pray for others.
Would we pray for others or for ourselves if there was no NEED?
He wants us to call on Him, to come to Him.
It also causes us to help each other.
It makes us care for others and realize others in the body of Christ care for us.
It teaches us to love each other, the function of the church, Christ's body of believers.
#5. As seen in James chapter one, suffering helps us persevere, perfecting us and making us stronger.
This was true of Abraham and Job who learned
they could be strong because God was with them to uphold them.
Deuteronomy 33:27 says, "The eternal God is your refuge,
and underneath are the everlasting arms."
How many times does Psalms say God is our Shield or Fortress or Rock or Refuge?
Once you experience His comfort, peace or deliverance or rescue in some trial personally,
you never forget it and when you have another trial you're stronger
or you can share it and help another.
It teaches us to depend on God and not ourselves, to look to Him,
not ourselves or other people for our help (2 Corinthians 1:9-11).
We see our frailty and look to God for all our needs.
#6. It is commonly assumed that most suffering for believers
is God's judgment or discipline (punishment) for some sin we have committed.
This was true of the church in Corinth where the church was full of people
who continued in many of their former sins.
I Corinthians 11:30 states that God was judging them, saying,
"many are weak and sickly among you and many sleep (have died).
In extreme cases God may take a rebellious person "out of the picture" as we say.
I believe this is rare and extreme, but it does occur.
The Hebrews in the Old Testament are an example of this.
Over and over they rebelled against God in not trusting Him and in not obeying Him,
but He was patient and longsuffering.
He punished them, but accepted their return to Him and forgave them.
It was only after repeated disobedience that He severely punished them
by allowing their enemies to enslave them in captivity.
We should learn from this.
Sometimes suffering is God's discipline, but we have seen many other reasons for suffering.
If we are suffering because of sin, God will forgive us if we ask Him to.
It is up to us, as it says in I Corinthians 11:28&31, to examine ourselves.
If we search our hearts and find we have sinned,
I John 1:9 says we must "acknowledge our sin."
The promise is that He will "forgives us our sin and cleanse us."
Remember that Satan is the "accuser of the brethren" (Revelation 12:10)
and as with Job he wants to accuse us so he can cause us to stumble and deny God. (Read Romans 8:1.)
If we have confessed our sin, He has forgiven us, unless we have repeated our sin.
If we have repeated our sin we need to confess it again as often as necessary.
Unfortunately, this is often the first thing other believers say if a person suffers.
Go back to Job.
His three "friends" relentlessly told Job he must be sinning or he wouldn't be suffering.
They were wrong.
I Corinthians says in chapter 11, to examine yourselves.
We should not judge others, unless we are a witness to a specific sin,
then we can correct them in love; neither should we accept this as the first reason for "trouble,"
for ourselves or others. We can be too quick to judge.
It also says, if we are sick, we can ask the elders to pray for us
and if we have sinned it will be forgiven (James 5:13-15).
Psalm 39:11 says, "You rebuke and discipline men for their sin,"
and Psalm 94:12 says, "Blessed is the man you discipline O Lord, the man you teach from your law."
Read Hebrews 12:6-17.
He disciplines us because we are His children and He loves us.
In I Peter 4:1, 12&13 and I Peter 2:19-21 we see that discipline purifies us by this process.
#7. Some natural catastrophes can be judgments on people, groups or even nations,
as seen with the Egyptians in the Old Testament.
Often we hear stories of God's protection of His own
during these events as He did with the Israelites.
#8. Paul presents another possible reason for troubles or infirmity.
In I Corinthians 12:7-10 we see that God allowed Satan to afflict Paul,
"to buffet him," to keep him from "exalting himself."
God may send affliction to keep us humble.
#9. Many times suffering, as it was for Job or Paul, can serve more than one purpose.
If you read further in 2 Corinthians 12, it also served to teach,
or cause Paul to experience God's grace.
Verse 9 says, "My grace is sufficient for you, my strength is made perfect in weakness."
Verse 10 says, "For Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships,
in persecutions, in difficulties, for when I am weak, then I am strong."
#10. Scripture also shows us that when we suffer,
we share in Christ's suffering, (Read Philippians 3:10).
Romans 8:17&18 teaches that believers "will" suffer, sharing in his suffering,
but that those who do will also reign with Him. Read I Peter 2:19-22
God's Great Love
We know that when God allows us any suffering it is for our good because He loves us (Romans 5:8).
We know that He is also always with us so He knows about everything which occurs in our life.
There are no surprises. Read Matthew 28:20; Psalm 23 and 2 Corinthians 13:11-14.
Hebrews 13:5 says, "He will never leave us or forsake us."
Psalms says He encamps around us. See also Psalm 32:10; 125:2; 46:11 and 34:7.
God doesn't just discipline, He blesses us.
In the Psalms it is obvious that David and the other Psalmists
knew that God loved them and surrounded them with His protection and care.
Psalm 136 (NIV) states in every verse that His love endures forever.
I found that this word is translated love in the NIV,
mercy in the KJV and lovingkindness in the NASV.
Scholars say there is not one English word which describes
or translates the Hebrew word used here, or should I say no adequate word.
I came to the conclusion that no one word could describe the divine love,
the kind of love God has for us.
It seems it is an undeserved love (hence the translation mercy)
which is beyond human comprehension, which is steadfast,
enduring, unbreakable, undying and everlasting.
John 3:16 says it is so great He gave up His Son to die for our sin (Reread Romans 5:8).
It is with this great love that He corrects us as a child is corrected by a father,
but by which discipline He desires to bless us.
Psalm 145:9 says, "the Lord is good to all."
See also Psalm 37:13&14; 55:28 and 33:18&19.
We tend to associate God's blessings with getting things which we want,
like a new car or house –the desires of our hearts, often selfish wants.
Matthew 6:33 says He adds these to us if we seek His kingdom first. (See also Psalm 36:5.)
Much of the time we beg for stuff which isn't good for us – much like little children.
Psalm 84:11 says, "no good thing will He withhold from them that walk uprightly."
In my quick search through Psalms I found many ways in which God cares for and blesses us.
There are far too many verses to write them all out. Look some up – you will be blessed. He is Our:
1). Provider: Psalm 104:14-30 – He provides for all creation.
Matthew 6:28 tells us He cares for the birds and lilies and says we are more important to Him than these.
Luke 12 tells about sparrows and says every hair on our head is numbered.
How can we doubt His love. Psalm 95:7 says, "we…are the flock under His care."
James 1:17 tells us, "every good gift and every perfect gift comes from above."
Philippians 4:6 and I Peter 5:7 say we should not be anxious for anything,
but we should ask Him to meet our needs because He cares for us.
David did this repeatedly as is recorded in the Psalms.
2). He is our: Deliverer, Protector, Defender.
Psalm 40:17 He rescues us; helps us when we are persecuted.
Psalm 91:5-7, 9&10; Psalm 41:1&2
3). He is our Refuge, Rock and Fortress. Psalm 94:22; 62:8
4). He sustains us. Psalm 41:1
5). He is our Healer. Psalm 41:3
6). He forgives us. I John 1:9
7). He is our Helper and Keeper. Psalm 121
(Who among us hasn't complained to God or asked Him to help us
locate something we misplaced – a very little thing – or begged Him
to heal us from terrible sickness or had Him rescue us from some tragedy
or accident – a very big thing. He cares about it all.)
8). He gives us peace. Psalm 84:11; Psalm 85:8
9). He gives us strength. Psalm 86:16
10). He saves from natural disasters. Psalm 46:1-3
11). He sent Jesus to save us.
Psalm 106:1; 136:1; Jeremiah 33:11 We mentioned His greatest act of love.
Romans 5:8 tells us that this is how He demonstrates His love for us,
for He did this while we were still sinners. (John 3:16; I John 3:1, 16)
He loves us so much He makes us His children. John 1:12
There are so many descriptions of God's love in Scripture:
His love is higher than the heavens. Psalm 103
Nothing can separate us from it. Romans 8:35
It is everlasting. Psalm 136; Jeremiah 31:3
In John 15:9 and 13:1 Jesus tells us how He loves His disciples.
In 2 Corinthians 13:11&14 He is called the "God of Love."
In I John 4:7 it says, "love is from God."
In I John 4:8 it says "GOD IS LOVE."
As His beloved children He will both correct and bless us.
In Psalm 97:11 (NIV) it says "He gives us JOY," and Psalm 92:12&13 says
that "the righteous will flourish." Psalm 34:8 says,
"taste and see that the LORD is good…
how blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him."
God sometimes sends special blessings and promises for particular acts of obedience.
Psalm 128 describes blessings for walking in His ways.
In the beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-12) He rewards certain behaviors.
In Psalm 41:1-3 He blesses those who help the poor.
So sometimes His blessings are conditional (Psalm 112:4&5).
In suffering, God wants us to cry out, asking for His help as David did.
There is a distinct Scriptural correlation between 'asking" and "receiving."
David cried to God and received His help, and so it is with us.
He wants us to ask so we understand it is He Who gives the answer
and then to give Him thanks.
Philippians 4:6 says, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything,
by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God."
Psalm 35:6 says, "this poor man cried and the Lord heard him,"
and verse 15 says, "His ears are open to their cry," and
"the righteous cry and the Lord hears them and delivers them out of all their troubles."
Psalm 34:7 says, "I sought the Lord and He answered me."
See Psalm 103:1&2; Psalm 116:1-7; Psalm 34:10; Psalm 35:10;
Psalm 34:5; Psalm 103:17 and Psalm 37:28, 39&40.
God's greatest desire is to hear and answer the cry of the unsaved
who believe and receive His Son as their Savior
and to give them eternal life (Psalm 86:5).
To conclude, all people will suffer in some way at some time
and because we have all sinned we fall under the curse which eventually brings about physical death.
Psalm 90:10 says, "The length of our days is seventy years or eighty if we have strength,
yet their span is but trouble and sorrow." This is reality. Read Psalm 49:10-15.
But God loves us and wishes to bless all of us.
God does show His special blessings, favor, promises
and protection on the righteous, to those who believe and who love and serve Him,
but God causes His blessings (like rain) to fall on all,
"the just and the unjust" (Matthew 4:45). See Psalm 30:3&4; Proverbs 11:35 and Psalm 106:4.
As we have seen God's greatest act of love, His best Gift and Blessing
was the gift of His Son, Whom He sent to die for our sins (I Corinthians 15:1-3).
Read John 3:15-18 & 36 and I John 3:16 and Romans 5:8 again.)
God promises to hear the call (cry) of the righteous and He will hear
and answer all who believe and call upon Him to save them.
Romans 10:13 says, "Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved."
I Timothy 2:3&4 says He "desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth."
Revelation 22:17 says, "Whosoever will may come," and John 6:48 says
He will "not cast them away." He makes them His children (John 1:12)
and they come under His special favor (Psalm 36:5).
Simply put, if God rescued us from all illness or danger we would never die
and we would remain in the world as we know it forever,
but God promises us a new life and a new body.
I don't think we would wish to remain in the world as it is forever.
As believers when we die we will instantly be with the Lord forever.
Everything will be new and He will create a new and perfect heaven
and earth (Revelation 21:1, 5). Revelation 22:3 says, "there shall no longer be any curse,"
and Revelation 21:4 says that, "the first things have passed away."
Revelation 21:4 also says, "There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain."
Romans 8:18-25 tells us that all of creation groans and suffers waiting for that day.
For now, God doesn't allow anything to happen to us that isn't for our good (Romans 8:28).
God has a reason for whatever He allows, such as our experiencing His strength
and sustaining power, or His deliverance.
Suffering will cause us to come to Him,
causing us to cry (pray) to Him and look to Him and trust Him.
This is all about acknowledging God and Who He is. It is all about His sovereignty and glory.
Those who refuse to worship God as God will fall into sin (Read Romans 1:16-32.).
They make themselves god. Job had to acknowledge his God as Creator and Sovereign.
Psalm 95:6&7 says, "let us bow down in worship,
let us kneel before the Lord our Maker, for He is our God."
Psalm 96:8 says, "Ascribe to the LORD the glory due HIS NAME."
Psalm 55:22 says, "Cast your cares on the LORD
and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous fall."
Do you have the assurance that if you were to die today,
you'll be in the presence of the Lord in Heaven?
Death for a believer is but a doorway that opens into eternal life.
Those who fall asleep in Jesus
shall be reunited with their loved ones in heaven.
Those you've laid in the grave in tears,
you shall meet them again with joy!
Oh, to see their smile and feel their touch...
never to part again!
Yet, if you don't believe in the Lord, you're going to hell.
There is no pleasant way to say it.
The Scripture says,
"For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God."
~ Romans 3:23
"That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus,
and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead,
thou shalt be saved."
~ Romans 10:9
Don't fall asleep without Jesus
until you are assured of a place in heaven.
Tonight, if you would like to receive the gift of eternal life
first you must believe in the Lord.
You have to ask for your sins to be forgiven
and put your trust in the Lord.
To be a believer in the Lord, ask for eternal life.
There's only one way to heaven and that's through the Lord Jesus.
That's God's wonderful plan of salvation.
You can begin a personal relationship with Him
by praying from your heart a prayer such as the following:
"Oh God, I'm a sinner.
I've been a sinner all of my life.
Forgive me, Lord.
I receive Jesus as my Savior.
I trust Him as my Lord.
Thank you for saving me.
In Jesus' name, Amen."
you have never received the
Lord Jesus as your personal Savior, but
have received Him today after
reading this invitation, please let us know.
If you have never received the Lord Jesus as your personal Savior,
but have received Him today after reading this invitation, please let us know.
We would love to hear from you. Your first name is sufficient.
"Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved"
~ Acts 2:21b
Plan of Salvation in Various Languages:
If you would like to contact us for spiritual guidance or for follow up care,
feel free to write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
We appreciate your prayers and look forward to meeting you in eternity!
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