Why do bad things happen to good people?



This question is almost as old as time itself.

And attempts to answer it have filled pages and books and libraries.

So you won’t be surprised when I tell you that I can’t tell you why bad things happen to good people.  Or why good things happen to bad people, which is sort of the same question.

What I do know is that good things happen to both good and bad people, and bad things also happen to both good and bad people.  I know it from personal experience, as do you.

But I also know it because the Bible tells me so.  The Bible tells stories about real people in real situations, and by reading these stories, that’s exactly what we see.

There’s even one whole book in the Older Testament about horrible things happening to a very good man.  Not just one thing, but a whole collection of bad things.  This good man, whose name was Job, had good friends who thought they had the “Why” of all this figured out.  So they explained the “Why” to Job.  Only they were wrong, totally wrong.  How do we know?  Because God himself told them so.

Their explanation was basically that bad things happen to people who do bad things, and that therefore, Job must have done bad things.  God said that isn’t the way things work here on Earth.

Jesus said the same thing in the Newer Testament.  It rains on the just and the unjust.

That’s the way it works here on Earth.  Bad things happen and good things happen.  To good people and to bad people.

So “Why?” is not the question to focus on.  How we handle life when stuff happens is what matters. That’s the lesson of Job.  And that’s the lesson I learn again and again from people I interact with who’ve had bad things happen to them.

  1. Jim, my daughter had a major crisis hit and more than once. Oh that I could have taken it on for her. But I had to trust God. Though we parents would like to help, I was powerless against cancer and the fact that she and her hubby were unable to conceive a child. In both cases He worked in ways exceedingly and abundantly more than I could ask or think.

    Thanks for the Twitter link.

  2. Jim Hughes says:

    Thanks for the comment, Robyn. Actually it was a conversation yesterday with a mom of a daughter fighting cancer that inspired the post. I’m continually amazed at different ways that God works in the lives of all of us as we go through this stuff where we’re so powerless.

  3. Tim Lary says:


    As I read your post it’s a natural tendency to allow myself the distraction of a pity party when I think of my daughter and her congenital heart defect. No matter how much time passes, I still find myself wanting to ask the question – Why? However, the quote by CS Lewis also comes to mind … “The real problem is not why some pious, humble, believing people suffer, but why some do not”. I guess the solace comes in hoping that one day we may know the why!

  1. There are no trackbacks for this post yet.