Why Do Bad Things Happen?

My daughter sent a text asking me to pray. Her friend’s little one, only two, diagnosed with leukemia. Only two.

As soon as I read the text, I knew. I knew that this precious momma and this young family, this hurting dad, will have to deal with the same question that’s been asked times without number—

Why? How can a “good God” do this? How can an all powerful God allow a little one to suffer this way? Where is God in all of this?

As I hear of another suicide bombing, more lives taken needlessly, as I pore over prayer requests that never cease coming in: a wife abandoned after more than four decades of marriage, a mom grieving over her drug-addicted son, a friend’s mother lying in a hospital bed—possibly hours from death . . . my heart can be overwhelmed by the suffering. The darkness can threaten to snuff out hope . . . if it were not for this:

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal (2 Cor. 4:16–18).

This is the passage I’ve adopted as my focus for the year. I write it out at the top of my journal page each morning. And as I form the same letters each day, scratching out the now familiar words on paper in the pre-dawn hours, I’m reminded again: This is not my home. This is not what I’m living for. This is the place of groaning and suffering.

This is not my home.

Why do bad things happen? The answer is simple; the living of it is not.

Bad things happen because we are still trapped in the groaning. For those who are “in Christ” we have a heavenly position, an eternal hope, and a future glory—we’ve been set free and given victory over death. But today our bodies are still stuck in this “wasting away.” Our hearts are still tied to the “seen.” And the “seen” is filled with the pain and consequences of a rotting world. A world invaded by death when sin entered its realm.

This is not my home.

We are all groaning under a weight we were never made to bear. We are living in foreign territory. We are strangers here in this world of sorrow and corruption.

For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body (Romans 8:22–23).

We are all hurting, groaning, decaying, due to our precipitous fall; our disrobing of glory; our entrance into the death journey. Infection invades healthy bodies. Cancer takes those we love most. Infidelity breaks the most sacred of vows. Hurting people hurt others—thus a continual cycle of hurt.

But that is NOT the end of the story. If this is all there is, then we are to be most pitied. If there is no purpose in the pain, then we might as well give up.

But there is purpose and there is more.

Pain and suffering do not last forever. Death does not have the last word.

For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive (1 Corinthians 15:21–22).

For those of us who are “in Christ” we are no longer under the condemnation of the death sentence. This life is the temporary before we move into the eternal life that completely releases us from death. Because Jesus came to do battle with death—and He put death to death through death!

For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling . . . For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened . . . so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. (2 Corinthians 5:1–4)

My only answer to the “Why?” question is to respond with a “Why?” question.

Why did God rescue us when we didn’t deserve rescue?

Why did God send His only Son, Jesus Christ, to endure an inhumane and brutal death to conquer death?

Why did God provide a way—The only Way—out of the groaning?

For love. As I watch the loved one dying, or walk with a friend through the horrors of terminal illness, or hear another story of betrayal, I know that this is not the end of the story. Love has provided the way of escape from the realm of groaning. Love has provided life from death. Love poured out on the cross has put to death—death.

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

And that is the solution when bad things happen. One day—how I long for that day—there will be no more days of “bad things” for those who are “in Christ.”

Are you “in Christ”?

Image courtesy of www.freedigitalphotos.net/David Castillo Dominici

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