Why Bad Things Happen to Good People

Throughout history and across time, a few questions echo in our collective human subconsciousness with greater intensity than any others.  Why are we here?  What happens after death?  Why do bad things happen to good people?  Many religions attempt to answer these questions, some in more definitive ways than others, but after surviving a hurricane and witnessing some of the devastation first-hand here in Vermont, my mind is drawn to that last question.  Luckily for you, I have the answer.

Now, as a Christian, I can only answer this from a Christian point of view.  Were I of the Hindu faith, I would probably tell you that, through karma, what we have done in the past affects what happens to us in the future.  And you would say, well, duh.  But that doesn’t really explain natural disasters very well, nor does it adequately answer the question of why bad things happen to good people.

Now, right off the bat, I have to say that this is something of a trick question.  You might also ask, why does that man over there have a beating heart inside of his chest?  Well, we all have beating hearts (at least temporarily), so why even ask that question?  Let me tell you, bad things don’t happen to good people, bad things happen to all people.  Good things happen to all people too.  You can be the worst person on the planet, and I assure you that at some point in your life, something is going to go your way.  I can also guarantee you that, like Job was, you can be the most faithful and devoted, loving and giving person around, and eventually the universe is going to mess with you.

The other problem with this question is that one must decide what a “good person” is.  How good do you have to be to not have bad things happen to you, anyway?  If I am generally a nice guy, and I help my friends and neighbors out, and then my house is washed away in a flood, I’ll bet you that somewhere, one of my buddies is saying that I didn’t deserve to have that happen to me.  And of course I didn’t  Nobody deserves to have their house washed away in a flood, and whether or not you picked up your next door neighbor’s mail while they were on vacation has very little to do with what path a hurricane is going to take.

But why?  Why do bad things happen to good people?  I think what you are really asking is, “What do I have to do to be safe in the future?” and “Why didn’t God do something to prevent this?”  And for that, I do have an answer.

As I said earlier, I am going to have to answer this as a Christian, so I apologize to my other-faithed followers, but I think, perhaps, this might apply to some of you as well.  The God that I read about in the Bible is not really a preventative God.  He(She) is a God of healing and restoration.  I am flipping through right now, trying to find an instance of someone coming up to Jesus and asking him to help them out with something before the fact.  No, that’s not how he operates.  God is not in the business of preventing terrible things from happening.

Perhaps that is of little comfort to you, but I hope you also read the second part of my statement.  God is all about healing and restoration.  God is totally down with taking a bad situation and turning it into something great.  Look at John 11.  Lazarus was sick, and everybody was all like “Hey, Jesus, come help him,” and Jesus was all like “Yeah, a little later.”  Lazarus died!  And Jesus showed up after the fact and brought him back to life!  That’s what Jesus does!  He heals the sick.  He does not vaccinate.  If you are praying to God for the hurricane to miss your house, well, I’m not saying he’s not listening, I’m just saying that everybody else is praying for that too, and the hurricane has to hit somebody.

In 1 Kings 19, Elijah is moping about in a cave, waiting for God to reveal himself.  This is a pretty famous passage, which goes something like this: There was a terrible wind that shattered rocks, but the Lord was not in the wind.  After the wind there was a huge earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.  After the wind and the earthquake were gone, there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire.  And finally, after the fire there was a still small voice, a gentle whisper.  That whisper, my friends, is hope.  Hope for the future, and knowledge that, even after earthquakes, winds, floods, fires, and whatever else life throws at us, we are going to get through it, and life is actually going to be okay again, if not better than it was before.  That’s what God does for us.  So don’t bother wondering why bad things happen to good people.  Bad things happen to us all.  It’s what we do afterwards that makes the real difference in our lives.

Posted in God, Hurricane Irene, Religion.

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