Question 3: Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?
In our previous posts, we saw that bad things are the result of sin. Our first parents, Adam and Eve, chose to rebel against God. Their sin caused creation to be cursed and made it so that all humans are born with a sinful nature. After thinking through these things, you might still wonder why God allows bad things to happen to good people. Maybe you have a nice neighbor who hurt her back or a kind friend whose parents got divorced. While it makes sense that bad things happen to bad people, it can be difficult to understand why bad things happen to good people. But here is something very important you must understand – there are no good people.
You might be thinking, “Wait a minute. There are no good people? That can’t be right. A lot of people are good. Aren’t they?” Well, that depends on what it means to be good. Most people believe that being a good person means being kind to others. They think that niceness is the same thing as goodness. But that is not true. The Bible tells us that being a good person means being one hundred percent perfect. And God is the only one who is one hundred percent perfect. Every person who has ever lived, no matter how nice they were, still did bad things. No person has ever been one hundred percent perfect. So, this means that bad things do not happen to good people because there are no good people.
Now, you are probably wondering, “But what about all the times when I do good things? Doesn’t that at least make me mostly good?” To answer this question, we need to think about the difference between outward goodness and inward goodness. Outward goodness is doing the right things. Inward goodness is doing the right things for the right reasons. To help you see the difference, think about this – when you do the right thing, do you ever want to do the wrong thing? Of course! What stops you from doing wrong things, like sneaking a cookie before dinner, saying something mean to your brother, or rolling your eyes at your mom? You know that if you do those bad things, you will be punished. When you do good things, many times, it is because you don’t want to be punished.
Now there are other times when you might do the right thing without being scared of punishment. You might wash the dishes when it is your dad’s turn to wash them. Or you might share a toy with your little sister without your mom telling you to share. Why do you do these things? Usually, it is because doing these things gives you a nice feeling inside. Other times you do these things because you want others to notice these good things you have done and reward you. Very rarely do humans do the right thing simply because it is the right thing to do. We usually demonstrate outward goodness because we are scared of being punished, we want to feel nice, or we want others to recognize the good things we have done.
By now, you should be able to see that bad things never happen to good people, because there are no good people. Well, actually, that isn’t one hundred percent true. There was one time when bad things did happen to a good person, the only good person who ever lived – Jesus. When Jesus lived on the earth, many bad things happened to Him. Eventually, people beat Him and nailed Him on a cross to die. But Jesus chose to let all these bad things happen to Him. You see, He loved you and me so much that He suffered the terrible punishment for our sin. And now, anyone who turns from their sin and trusts in Him can be forgiven and have a relationship with God. So, bad things only happened to a good person once, and He chose to let those bad things happen to Him.
Even though you now know that bad things do not happen to good people, you might still feel frustrated. Living in a fallen world can be very sad and very difficult. You might be thinking, “Wouldn’t it have been better if God didn’t allow Adam and Eve to choose? Then there would be no sin and no bad things.” That is an excellent question. It seems like a good idea – trade in our ability to choose for a perfect world. Right? Well, that is exactly what we will explore in our next post.