Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Why Does Bad Stuff Happen to Good People?

Wednesday, February 17, 2016


There once was a man named Job who lived in the land of Uz.  He was blameless—a man of complete integrity.  He feared God and stayed away from evil.  Job 1:1(NLT)

Many are familiar with the story of Job; he is a good man, but in the space of the first twenty verses of the book he loses just about everything – wealth, health, family and even the respect of his closest friends.  And what was his reaction?

Job stood up and tore his robe in grief.  Then he shaved his head and fell to the ground to worship.  He said, “I came naked from my mother’s womb, and I will be naked when I leave.  The Lord gave me what I had, and the Lord has taken it away.
Praise the name of the Lord!”  In all of this, Job did not sin by blaming God.     
Job 1:20-21(NLT)

We are certainly limited as to making judgments about eternal things because we are hemmed-in by time and space.  I have trouble understanding some things I’ve seen. 

For instance, why did an eight-year-old girl who used to live near my daughter in Thomasville die of cancer?  I buried a little infant girl several years ago – she only made it about half a day in this world.  Her birth mother was barely into her teens, and the father had to get special permission to be released from jail to attend the funeral. 

My friend in Florida was an excellent detective, and chief of the homicide division and a devoted follower of Christ.  He helped bring serial killer Danny Rolling to justice; my friend died in 2009 of brain cancer; he was not even 60 years old.  I cannot fathom the depth of suffering of the people in Haiti, or starving children in this world.

Rabbi Aaron Moss has this question for us who struggle with why bad stuff happens:

“Are you sure you want an explanation?  Do you really want to know why the innocent suffer?  I think not.  You are far better off with the question than with an answer….But what if we found the answer?  What if someone came along and gave us a satisfying explanation?  What if the mystery were finally solved?  What if we asked why, and actually got an answer?  If this ultimate question were answered, then we would be able to make peace with the suffering of innocents.  And that is unthinkable….And so, if we could make sense of innocent people suffering, if we could rationalize tragedy, then we could live with it.  We would be able to hear the cry of sweet children in pain and not be horrified.  We would tolerate seeing broken hearts and shattered lives, for we would be able to neatly explain them away.  Our question would be answered, and we could move on.

“But as long as the pain of innocents remains a burning question, we are bothered by its existence.  And as long as we can’t explain pain, we must alleviate it.  If innocent people suffering does not fit into our worldview, we must eradicate it.  Rather than justifying their pain, we need to get rid of it. 

“So keep asking the question, why do bad things happen to good people.  But stop looking for answers.  Start formulating a response.  Take your righteous anger and turn it into a force for doing good.  Redirect your frustration with injustice and unfairness and channel it into a drive to fight injustice and unfairness.  Let your outrage propel you into action.  When you see innocent people suffering, help them.  Combat the pain in the world with goodness.  Alleviate suffering wherever you can.

“We don’t want answers, we don’t want explanations, and we don’t want closure.  We want an end to suffering.  And we dare not leave it up to G-d to alleviate suffering.  He is waiting for us to do it.  That’s what we are here for.”[2]

Well, thank you, Rabbi Moss; your words are strong and challenging, but they need to be so, because, up against pain, suffering, death, and rampant injustice in the world, Mary Poppins’ spoonful of sugar hardly seems worth the trouble.

For You Today

Have you got some pain to figure out?  Maybe God has some work for you that is best conducted in the driving rain of opposition and the road less-travelled.  And that is the place where Job’s words make a little more sense:

The Lord gave me what I had, and the Lord has taken it away.  Praise the name of the Lord! 

You chew on that as you hit the Rocky Road today…and have a blessed day!

[2] Rabbi Aron Moss, Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?, 

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