Why do bad things happen to good people?
Part 2 How do we cope with pain and suffering
In my previous discussion in part 1, we defined why there is pain and suffering in this world and that sometimes, pain and suffering is our own fault while other times, we can see no reason why it happened. In this 2nd part of the discussion, I want to look at a case study of the man Job as we see that what happened to him was not deserved, and then I want to look at how we cope with the hardships that we all face.
Case Study: Job
Job we are told in chapter 1 verse 1 was a man who “was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil”. Job was a man who followed God and obeyed God in all that he did. The fact that he was blameless and upright tells us that he did his best to live for God and obey God. The fact that he feared God and shunned evil tells us that he respected God and wanted to do what pleased him. Today we would have called Job a Christian. He was a man who had given his life for God and allowed God to take control of his thoughts, his actions and his words. He was a godly man, a ‘good’ man. We are also told in 1:2 that Job was an exceptionally wealthy man both in family and in money. Verse 3 says that he was “the greatest man among all the people of the East.”
Yet by the end of chapter 2, Job has lost all his wealth, all his family and all his health. Did he deserve what had happened to him? Job’s three friends seem to think so, and their advice to him is repent and turn back to God. But this is not the case. Job suffered immensely even though he remains faithful to the Lord God. Over and over Job mentions that he is innocent, that he didn’t deserve to suffer, and that he has done nothing wrong to deserve this punishment from God. Chapter 6:30 Job says is there any wickedness on my lips?” 9:21 “although I am blameless…” Job does some self-reflection looking in at his own life, but he believes he is innocent of the disaster that has befallen him.
Don’t think that Job is just ok with what is happening to him even though he is innocent. Job pleads with God (6:1-23), he questions God (3:1-26), and he even thinks that God is out to get him (6:4ff). Job does not understand what is happening to him. He cannot fathom or explain why. SO it seems that Job’s suffering was what we might call undeserved suffering because of the fact that he lived in a fallen world.
Does that mean that Job now shook his fist at God and cursed God? Not at all. He remained faithful to God through the whole event. So what kept him going as he struggled through life?
Coping with suffering
And this is the million dollar statement. How can we cope in a world that will bring suffering and hardship? How do we deal with the seeming atrocities that happen in our own lives? How do we cope? How do we face tomorrow?
As one reads through the book of Job, one finds a few nuggets of hope. Early on in Job’s discussion with his friends, he tells them that he still worships the Lord. 1:20 “Then he fell to the ground in worship 21 and said ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb and naked I shall depart. The lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.’” After the next tragedy to strike Job, his health, his wife tells him to “curse God and die” (2:9) to which Job replies 2:10 “Shall we accept good from God and not trouble?”
I think the lesson that we start to learn from Job is that we should never give up following the Lord. And as we continue to read through Job, we come across this idea time and again. As Job continues to struggle with what has happened to him, he says 6:10 “Then I would still have this consolation – my joy in unrelenting pain – That I have not denied the words of the Holy One.”
What a statement to make when Job is in the deepest pit of depression and anxiety. He asks God why, yet hangs on to God and continues to trust him.
Job wishes that there were someone who could step into the gap between him and the mighty creator God. 9:33 “If only there were someone to arbitrate between us, to lay his hand upon us both, 34 someone to remove God’s rod from me.”
The New Testament tells us in 1 John 2:1-2 that Jesus is our advocate. “…we have one who speaks to the father in our defence – Jesus Christ, the Righteous one. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins and not only for ours but also for the whole world.”
In chapter 19, Job makes a comment about God which I think is one of the key statements in the book. 19:25-26 “I know that my redeemer [rescuer, arbitrator] lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. 26 and after my skin has been destroyed yet in my flesh I will see God.” What a magnificent explanation of what the New Testament tells us about Jesus, our saviour, who not only took our sin upon himself, but rose again therefore giving us life even though we die.
Sometimes the only thing to hang on to in our time of hardship is the Lord Jesus. When our world is falling away around us, Jesus is there and he will never leave us. So as you have worked through this discussion on why do bad things happen to good people, I hope you can begin to see that they do and we don’t have an answer as to why, but the way we cope through them is by hanging on to the redeemer that God has given us, the Lord Jesus Christ. Without which, I don’t know what there is to hang on to other than trying to make sense of it all, which often we cant. Do you trust him? Have you given your life to him?
Now I haven’t spoken about God’s purpose in all this, which I’ll try and tackle in another article later, but even Job saw that God had a plan for his life and as the prophet Jeremiah says in 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you” says the Lord “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.””
Trust God. If there is sin, sort it out, but trust God even when you don’t understand why
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society
Used by permission of International Bible Society
Posted by Rev Dion Steele. Posted In : Doctrine