God's word in today's world

Why do bad things happen to good people?


James 1:12-18

After the flood of comments on Wednesday about all the hardship we suffer and also because of suffering by loved ones around me this past week, I post this piece that I wrote a year or two ago.

Yesterday our domestic worker phoned hysterically: her house had burned down. We rushed there. The house was still burning. There was nothing we could do. Everything was lost. There was literally nothing left. We gave her and her year-old son some juice, but she was shivering so much she couldn’t drink it.

And I wondered: Lord, why did this happen?

Last week the son of good friends of ours rode his scooter to gym. It was late afternoon and where he was riding along in the shade of the trees a woman didn’t see him and drove right in front of him. Her car was written off by the impact of his body and the scooter. One of his vertebras slipped because of the impact, injuring his spinal cord. He still cannot move his legs.

And I wonder why do bad things happen to good people?

James 1 gives a clear answer to this, but it’s not an easy answer: 12Anyone who meets a testing challenge head-on and manages to stick it out is mighty fortunate. For such persons loyally in love with God, the reward is life and more life.

The answer is simple. God is not the cause of bad things in our lives. God only plans good for us. God does use the bad things that occur in our lives to test our faith. Therefore, in times of hardship it is so important not to look to God for the cause of the hardship. In times of hardship we must know that God will use it to see if our faith will stand firm. In a way God uses the hardship in our lives to purify our faith, like gold.

To get all the dirt out of the gold it must be exposed to extreme heat. Thousands of degrees Celsius. In the same way, when your worldly goods are heated up, your faith is purified and all the things that God doesn’t want there are cleaned out. But remember, it’s not God who caused you to experience hardship. 13Don’t let anyone under pressure to give in to evil say, “God is trying to trip me up.”

When we don’t see what causes the suffering in our lives, we often go and sit in the corner and blame God. Because God is almighty and it must be Him who puts all this hardship in my life. And quickly we become angry and want to get away from God. Which is actually quite stupid, because now we pull away from the One who is not the cause of the problem, and, secondly, is actually the only One who can help us get through the suffering. And in this way I prolong the hardship and make it so much more difficult for myself to get through the hard times. The sooner I realise that God is not the cause and the sooner I make peace with the fact that I am in a test phase, the sooner I can struggle through it.

I stand by my friend, his eyes are tired. He and his wife take turns to sit with their son in the hospital. I learn from him. He says it’s times like these that test your faith. Times like these that you pray and call out to God. Times like these that your faith is purified. When it becomes stronger and you really know and believe that everything, simply everything is in God’s hands.

Cars break down, people fall ill, friendships break up, houses burn down, accidents happen and … and … and … Yes, bad, very bad things happen to good people. Just remember it’s not God. No, God uses all circumstances in which I find myself for my sake. Yes, God is here in the hard times, where I suffer and can’t go on.

Maybe we should stop throwing our toys out of the cot so often for so many reasons, and rather go and rest with God, because we’ll get back up stronger for sure. Then we will enjoy victory and true happiness.

Reflection

Do you struggle?

Who do you blame?

To whom do you call?

What does your faith look like?

Prayer

God, I must be honest, sometimes I blame you. Sometimes I get so angry at You because of all the things that happen to me. I’m sorry, please forgive me. Please help me come through these tests. I want to learn and come out a better person on the other side. Please send your Spirit to help me up. Amen

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