Why do bad things happen to good people? You hear this all the time around you and you may have even thought it before. When speaking with others about their beliefs regarding trials and suffering, you may be surprised at just how far apart your view is from theirs. The fact is we are broken people living with other broken people in a broken world. The consequence of our brokenness is trials and suffering. However, the good news is this is not the final word.
Here’s Where They’re At
When the subject of suffering comes up with people who don’t hold a biblical worldview, you may hear questions like, why would a good and loving God allow us to go through trials and suffering? Surely, if He loved us, He would take all these terrible things away from us. After all, doesn’t loving us mean He wants our lives to be easy and comfortable?
Here’s Where You’re At
You believe when Adam sinned he plunged the human race and the cosmos into a cursed state. So you understand bad things happen in life because of sinful humanity and a broken world. But it still somehow seems unfair to you. On the one hand you want God to end your suffering and sometimes He does, but on the other hand you also believe in Romans 8:28 and that for the believer, all trials and tribulations must have a good divine purpose. You also believe God sometimes uses suffering to get people’s attention and teach them or others something.
Here’s Where Scripture’s At
Trials and suffering are part of living in a fallen world (Genesis 3:14-19; Job 5:7). While some trials come upon us because of our own wrongdoing (1 Peter 4:15) and sin can be forgiven, consequences may endure. The majority of suffering in the world is caused by people’s sinful choices. To stop it God would have to take away free will and choice. Satan and his demons are also active creating suffering, chaos, and havoc (Job 1-2).
While on earth, Jesus suffered too (Philippians 2:6-8) so He understands our plight and can sympathize with us (Hebrews 2:17-18; 4:14-16). God’s ultimate plan is the redemption of humanity and the creation (Romans 8: 18-25). He is always consistent with His character as wise, loving, and good, and with His covenant to conform His people to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29). In the end God will do away with all suffering. Till then, everything—including trials and suffering—is designed to enable us to reach that goal. Our faith is validated and tested by trials and is made stronger (1 Peter 1:6-7). Suffering also reveals what we really love. (Luke 14:26) and teaches us to value the blessing of God (Psalm 63:3). God tested Abraham but he believed God could raise the dead (Genesis 22:1; Hebrews 11:17-19). This tells us that we can go through the severest imaginable trials of life if we trust God.
Where to Go From Here
Recognize and accept trials and suffering as facts of life. We don’t choose whether we will experience them but we do have a choice as to how we will respond to them.
Train yourself to look at your suffering and trials through the lens of God’s Word, His character, His attributes, His promises, and His purposes. Not the other way around. Going through any trial of life can be a joyous experience for a Christian if perspective is right. Allowing trials to humble and remind us not to rely on our own strength but depend wholly on the grace of God is a good response to suffering (2 Corinthians 12:7).
Remember, the Lord allows trials in our lives to wean us from trusting in and pursuing worldly things as well as to remind us this world is not our home. If our suffering is because of our own sin, we must repent of the sin and ask God to be merciful. He may choose to withhold the consequences of our sin.
When people who are suffering ask why they may not be looking for an explanation as much as comfort and empathy. Show them the love and compassion of Christ.