When Bad Things Happen to Good People


This lesson isn't designed to help people who have been bad and are suffering natural consequences. As Peter said in 1Peter 2:20, "For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God." Rather this is written to people who are trying so hard to live for Christ each day and for whom things are not going right.


Being a mere mortal and having no claim to a perfect understanding of the inner workings of God's mind, I won't say that the following is an exhaustive list of the reasons that bad things happen to good people, but it is a start:

Let's look at these in turn. If you are a good person who is suffering a bad turn of fortune, hopefully there will be some comfort in this study.


1. Good people caught up in a larger plan. This describes Job to a T. How could he have known that God and Satan were in a contest to see who would win in Job's heart? So many times today when we are tempted or tried, we are not shown the big picture. But, like Job, our job is to stay good no matter what wagers may be bing placed in the heavenly realms. Job knew that his wife's advice of "Curse God, and die" (Job 2: 9) wasn't right and Job refused to follow it. In our dispensation we are told to "Be thou faithful until death, and I will give thee the crown of life" (Rev. 2: 10). And let us not worry that we will be forgotten while God is doing His master plan. "Mat 6:25 -34"Therefore I say unto you, be not anxious for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than the food, and the body than the raiment? Behold the birds of the heaven, that they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; and your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are not ye of much more value then they? And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit unto the measure of his life? And why are ye anxious concerning raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God doth so clothe the grass of the field, which to-day is, and to-morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Be not therefore anxious, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? For after all these things do the Gentiles seek; for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first his kingdom, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
Be not therefore anxious for the morrow: for the morrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof."


When we read the Honor Roll of the Faithful in Hebrews 11, we see a long list of Old Testament characters who were good people and who had bad things happen to them. Few if any of them in their times could see the bigger picture, the drama of the spiritual battles in which they were involved and at which they were ultimately winning. Yet by the first century, the Christians who received the letter written to the Hebrews could look at these incidents in hindsight and remark "Oh, yes, that's what that was all about!" In the same way, one day we may be able to look back and see the significance of the spiritual battles that we are fighting and winning today.


2. Good people caught up in what bad people are doing around them. Good Christian people have interactions with those of the world--otherwise there would be no outreach to the lost (Matthew 28: 19). It behooves us to be careful about how far we go in our friendships with them until those worldly people become Christians and have time to become well grounded. We are to do good to all men, especially those of the household of faith (Galatians 6: 10). We will not lead worldly people to God if we become just like them ( Matthew 5: 13-16) but rather we are to be the salt of the Earth, the city on a hill, and the light of the world.


3. Good people who have become oblivious to the threats around them. Of all the Christian people who have ever lived, we of our generation have the most opportunity to be aware of current events, new discoveries about health, and dangerous products or foods. "Be ye wise as serpents, and harmless as doves" applies just as much now as it did in Christ's time upon the Earth. Jesus praised the unjust steward not because he had integrity but because he availed himself of the opportunities he had (Luke 16: 1-10). Don't build your house on a known flood plain. Put food and medical supplies back for bird flu. Lock the doors of your houses at night. Use common sense.


4. Good people sometimes endure persecution while doing what is right. That isn't just an idea: It's a scriptural promise. 2Timothy 3:12 "Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted." Take the persecution as a compliment. If you weren't living as a Christian, nobody would notice that you were a city set on a hill and nobody would persecute you for your good living. Sometimes God allows trials and persecutions to come to test us a little bit to see how faithful we are. The fact that we are deemed worthy of testing is a big compliment. Read James 1: 12-16 about taking joy in being tested.


5. Death. People of the world who have no hope see death as the end. It is only the beginning of eternal life with God to the Christian. God has a way--whether it be through an act of war, through a natural disaster, through disease, or old age--to take each of the good people out of this earth. Death may be the call to come home. Some good people get the call sooner than others.



Click here to return to

the sermon index file.