Sunday, November 29, 2009

why does God let bad things happen to good people?

Why is there so much evil in the world? Where did it all come from? And why doesn't God do something about it?

In the beginning God told Adam and Eve to fill the world and to rule and subdue it. The garden was devoid of evil - it was good. When Adam and Eve chose to grasp for the knowledge of good and evil so that their eyes were opened and they became like God, they were choosing to submit to a power structure other than their Creator's. Adam and Eve and their children traded the value system and the culture handed them by their loving Father for the value system and culture of a deceiving snake.

Put another way, God did do something about evil. He created a perfect place that had none. Then he put us in charge of it. We chose and continue to choose to opt for actions and values that have nothing to do with the life-bringing authority of God. Rather, we grasp for what we want over and over again - affirming and aligning ourselves with a power whose sole agenda is to lie, steal and destroy.

The real question is why do WE let bad things happen to good people?
Their is so much evil in the world because our response to evil is to conform to the pattern of this world (Rom. 12:2) and to help it multiply by repaying evil for evil (Rom. 12:17). We have come up with some "good" ways to stem the growth of evil (self-defense, military defense, incarceration, the death penalty, etc), but invariably we use a little evil for the greater good of the general population. And violence always births more violence (Mt. 26:52).

Now I would suggest to you that nations/governmental powers have to behave like this to preserve themselves. However, the people who are followers of Jesus, who are strangers or aliens in this world (1Peter 2:11) and citizens of another (Phil. 3:20) have aligned themselves with Jesus, who did not consider being like God something to be grasped at. Rather he chose the weakness of serving and the humiliation of death (Phil. 2:6-8) as his strategy to rid the world of evil.

When Christians figure out the centrality of Jesus' example of sacrificial love and live it consistently we will give the world a choice, as Jesus did, to overcome evil with good (Romans12:21). Why aren't WE doing something about the evil in this world?

Just some stuff we should talk about.


  1. This one makes me think...It reminds me of when my friend died last year in a head on collision along with a baby inside and her 12 year old son, all do to a 16 year old girl texting while driving. I asked God why as I walked down the road and he said, "People make decisions that affect other people." I was surprised he said anything, but that short answer really affected me.

    In regards to what you are saying, I feel like it applies directly to my parenting, how am I going to teach Genevieve to not hit when I hit her to tell her no? This always presents a dilema to me, so I have chosen a diffeerent strategy.

    "Violence always leads to more violence," is a big statement, but as I think about it I think its true. I feel like for me I want the satisfaction of revenge my way, bot Oh! that is not God's way. Wow! Lots of this kind of thinking is being challenged in me.


  2. We cannot blame God for the things people do (even in His name). Furthermore, as long as we are looking at all that is wrong with the world - and ourselves - we are glorifying the enemy and, in effect, acting in agreement with him. It is a question of where we put our energy. Darkness is simply the absence of light. Jesus' example of servitude gave us a model for living which brings the glory of His kingdom to earth. He called us to be salt and light, (Mathew 5:13, 14). Even a small amount of salt flavors the entire chili (sorry, just had lunch), and darkness flees from even a flicker of light. Thus, our focus on evil has us, like Lot's wife, looking in the wrong direction. We should be seeking the spirit inside us, looking for ways to establish God's presence in our world rather than focusing on, and thereby legitimizing, the works of the enemy.

    How happy must Satan be whenever he is able to distract us from our Godly purposes on earth? To a certain degree, even asking the question "why" is seeking the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, leaving us in an all-too-comfortable position of detachment and judgment and relieving us of the responsibility to do anything about it. Such focus is debilitating. Every action in agreement with the spirit of God brings the glory of His kingdom to earth. such action is empowering and contagious. The world (and all of us in it) need to see that there is another - and better - way.

    Bear with me on this one, Michone - I know this is hard . . .The young girl who took the lives of our friends in an attempt to end her own was acting out of incredible pain. Her culture had so distorted her view of love, thereby distorting her view of God, who IS love, that she was tortured and confused beyond her ability to reason or cope. Who's fingerprints are all over that one?! The light had not yet shone in the darkness of her life. Is it possible to find inspiration, rather than desperation in that? That this tragedy was so literally a collision of worlds, that this happened to such a beautiful, loving family rings of spiritual warfare. So, what do we do with that? That this young girl lived is perhaps the miracle we had all hoped for but missed in our grieving for those we had lost. Can we see the room for God's redemption in this? Part of kingdom awareness is the ability to see the growing potential for a miracle amid the increasingly discouraging reports of the spies.

    There is something more profound (insidious?) happening here. Our questioning is founded on the basic premises (doctrines?) of our faith. Was the Garden devoid of evil? If so, why was the serpent present? Or, rather, why was it acting in agreement with the enemy within the borders of the Garden? Satan was cast out of Heaven for his rebellion against God. So, even in the kingdom of Heaven - and even amongst angels - individuals can be prone to rebellion. Unless we become like little children, we will not enter the kingdom of Heaven, (Mathew 18:3). Why? Because, as long as we seek our own wisdom by which to govern our own lives, we will fail to act out of respect and reverence for, let alone obedience to, our father. We are in training for Heaven. What have we learned?

  3. I think Kyle is on to something. Recenently, someone reminded me that Jesus is not just good, he is beautiful. We ask why and consequently develop answers (theology) to find the good in situations. In this we are taking our eyes off the ball. Let's face it; practically speaking we forget that our temporal existence is only part of our existence. When we demand "good" results or outcomes in this life we are displaying our practical theology that this life counts more than the next. God's kingdom is beautiful, whether we perceive it to be so in this world or the next.

    While the collision of two kingdoms can cause heart-ache in this life, we as God's ambassadors in this world must remember that after the funerals God is still at work loving people into his kingdom.

    On another topic (not nearly as relevant) I would like to pose the thesis that heaven and the garden as they were created were devoid of evil. The serpent is presented as an animal, not a fallen angel (church history has given us the explanation that the serpent was Satan) and the things he told Eve were not lies but actually were the truth. I wonder if the posing of a question (even questioning God) and the ability to choose evil are not actually evil themselves. Rather they are ingredients God decided to put into the kind of being he was interested in being intimate with.

  4. I really think it's necessary to look at what it really ment to have the tree of knowledge of good and evil put into the garden. Yes it was created in a state of ignorance that had not yet experienced evil.

    I can't really think of it as devoid of evil, simply absent of it. And the tree was God's neccessity. As Danny Silk put it, not having an option to choose evil is not an option of free-will at all. Only being faced with the option for good is not freedom.

    The world is a place where evil is necessary because without it we would not be able to choose God, because there would be no choice at all.

  5. I think a definition of evil is necessary to continue this conversation. If you are using the word "evil" to refer to everything that is not god then I would agree with you. However, most of use "evil" to mean something more tangible, more diabolical, more destructive. While "choice" was present in the garden, Genesis is very clear that "evil" was not (Gensis 1:31 - "God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.")

    I think that what God knew (which was specifically what Adam and Eve did not know) was that knowledge gained from a source other than the architect would be skewed, even if it was ever so slightly. Good human reasoning cannot compete with divine revelation. Common sense will never adequately replace being able to hear the voice of the lord. The weakness or foolishness of God is far superior to wisdom from any other source (even if God made the source!) This "source" of knowledge constitutes the ever present choice that all humans have to follow what God reveals as truth or to follow some other source. The former brings heaven to earth, the latter always produces evil eventually.

  6. We can argue the point of what exactly evil is, but in my personal opinion that one is rather moot. Wether evil was present in the garden or not, the opportunity was. And God didn't place that opportunity there expecting them not to take it.

    One can argue that there is no "evil" in heaven yet Lucifer cleary made a choice that could be described as "evil". One could also make the clearly walked-all-over point that he was present in the garden so "evil" was clearly allowed to be there.

    My point is that God has never put us in a position where we had no choice. To ever do that would void his benevolency.

    And that is the same in the case of why do bad things happen to good people. God doesn't allow them to happen, he simply allows us the opportunity to decide for ourselves how we handle the experiences of life. The sun shines on the righteous and the un-righteous. Quite frankly it comes with the territory...

    And how could it not? If God simply rewarded those who did good, with no bad things ever happening to them. Wouldn't that create a type of caste-system? And don't you think a lot more people would chose to be good?

    I've always felt like it's unfortunate that bad things happen to good people, but then I consider the alternative. If good things only happened to good people, and bad things to bad then a lot of bad things would happen to me. So thank God for his grace.

  7. Wow, overshadowedemail, you have an interesting way of piecing together your arguments. Here at stuffweneedtotalkabout there are a few as yet undeclared ground rules.

    First, when using Scripture in a particular line of reasoning each of us is required to take the text at face value. If you wish to imply truth from a text I think it is only fair to note that this is your opinion and not what Scripture is teaching.

    You assert that "God did not place that opportunity there expecting them not to take it". I believe you are referring to the opportunity to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. You may or may not be right, however, Scripture does not say that God expected them to eat of that tree. Scripture is silent on this matter, but I would assert that Scripture implies that God (who is rooting for us all the time) was at least hoping Adam and Eve would not eat of the tree.

    "One could argue that there is no evil in heaven, yet Lucifer clearly made a choice that could be described as "evil". I'm curious as to why you believe that Lucifer made a choice that could be described as evil and what you think this evil choice was.

    I am pretty confidant that the perfect God we worship did not ever and never will create anything evil. But God apparently is pretty reckless in his passionate desire to have a bride. He has created beings (angels and humans) who have the capacity to choose him or not. In this we are like God. Our choices create just as God's choices create. We (and Satan) have created an awful lot of evil. I think it is unfair and unproovable by Scripture to pin this evil on God.

    You make the assertion that Satan was present in the garden. How do you know? Is this your opinion or is this something Scripture says? This is an important distinction.

    Now, your final argument is the one I find most interesting. I think it is a clear assertion of Scripture that God always desires to give good things to those who love him (Rom. 8:28). And because I am madly in love with Jesus - in fact I delight in him - he has promised to give me the desires of my heart. And I assure you the desires of my heart are all things that I think are good.

    Why would you say that bad things would happen to you without God's grace? Are you implying that you are a bad person? I am not sure where this line of reasoning is coming from or where it is going.

  8. Bad things happen to good people, just as often as good things happen to bad people. I truly believe that both of those occassions are orchestrated by satan.
    Obviously a "good" person would not take any steps to have bad things happen to them. And a "bad" person wouldn't even know where to begin to create something good for themselves. So....keeping this in mind, God only wants what's best for his children. But like it has been mentioned before, we as a human race have the luxurious choice of free-will. So ultimately "we" cause what happens to us...right? Well, maybe not, bear with me here...God is not so naive as to only reward the "good" people. Nor is he so heinous as to only punish the "bad". Ultimately God is love. Love would never segregate or categorize in that way. Love is unconditional and nonjudgemental.
    However, the devil is "evil". So if we know that then we know that essentially it is satan that makes bad things happen to good people if only to cause a minutes worth of doubt in our Father. And what better way to ascertain that someone would not look to God who is bad if good things keep happening to them?
    I heard today that you can tell the difference between when God is talking to you or the devil because God's voice brings hope, the devil brings doubt and despair. And I would be willing to bet, that all the righteous people, the God fearing,Bible thumping ,right wing advocates of the Kingdom, hear satan quite a bit. Because they don't understand that God is not to be feared. He is awesome and wonderful, and only desires to be loved.
    I believe if more people followed God with their hearts and less with their brains, this world would be opened up to limitless possibilities.

  9. This is Jess, by the way, using Graham's account :)

    I think that the point Danny Silk was making about the oportunity in the garden for a "poor choice" is that God is not afraid of our poor choices, our sin or our messes. "God is love....There is no fear in love, perfect love casts out the fear" 1 John 4:18. I do not know if God expected Adam and Eve to choose to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. I do know though that he was not afraid they would.
    I know that my personal responce to the world's sin is often fear. Does fear cast out the love? I think it does.
    I read yesterday in a book by Donald Miller that the commandment most often given in the old testament is "do not fear". I find that very interesting especially since we'retalking about pre "new covenant".
    I do not know why God allows bad things happen to good people, I agree with Dan's commission to instead look at why we allow bad things to happen to good people. I do know that his perspective is very deferent from ours when he looks at a lost and hurting world. He loves us fearlessly and recklessly and he's not a little bit afraid of our mistakes.
    "Whoever loves his brother lives in light,and there is nothing in him to make him stumble." 1 John 2:9
    "You are the light of the world, a city on a hill cannot be hidden." Matthew 5:13

    -jessica marie

  10. The woman can teach - pay attention to the stuff she says!