Resurrection Day 2011: WHY? do bad things happen to good people?

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?”

The words above, taken from Psalm 22, are words of lament, concern and fear. This Psalm, as many, asks the question, “Why?” And for us, our “why” question often becomes, “Why do bad things happen to good people?”

We all know something’s wrong with the world, and especially with the way we often treat each other. At the simplest level we feel this truth every time we hurt somebody or somebody hurts us. So it’s rather amazing that we still try to qualify people as “good.”

Romans 3:23 says, “All have sinned (chosen our own way rather than God’s) and fall short of the glory of God.” And Proverbs 20:9 asks, “Who can say, ‘I have made my heart pure; I am clean from my sin’?”

The truth is, none of us have or even can. There are no good people. Except, that is, for one.

Ironically, horrible things happening to this good Person are exactly what Christians consider at Good Friday each year. Jesus Christ, the only Man who never sinned, willingly took on His people’s sin as He died. The only good Person to ever live was crucified and, on the cross forsaken by God so His people wouldn’t be, He quoted the first part of that Psalm above.

Yet, amazingly, the best possible thing happening to bad people is a great part of the promise of Resurrection Day. Consider this:

“For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God...” -1 Peter 3:18

“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” -2 Corinthians 5:21

“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.” -Romans 5:6-9

Jesus died, the good for the bad. But He didn’t stay in the grave. He returned to life 3 days later, ready to renew all who truly believe in Him and, with His help, trust Jesus over everything else. He answers Psalm 22 by doing the saving. Only He gives hope for new life, and for renewed relationships with Him, with each other and even with our world, as He says in Revelation, “Behold, I am making all things new.”

So perhaps the answer to that earlier question can be summed up in a quote from R.C. Sproul, Jr., “Why do bad things happen to good people? That only happened once, and He volunteered.”

Praying you see the beauty of Jesus in His salvation, hope and restoration.

Scripture quotes from ESV
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  1. I understand the bumper-sticker "cleared myself of the question" defining everyone as bad, and I don't necessarily disagree on the angle that you're taking, but isn't this question usually asked from an emotional position and not as an intellectual one? We ask this when a loved one dies too young, or a Dad loses his job. Sometimes bad things have even happened to people who have been redeemed by Jesus sacrifice on the cross.

  2. Cris, certainly the standard issue question is often asked emotionally in times of crisis. However, I have posed two questions: The big, emotional question, "Why?" and the second, "Do bad things actually happen to 'good' people?" by which I desired to draw out the Gospel in a way many to whom I have spoken tend to miss.

    Regarding the emotional, as noted, bad things happen to everyone without exception in this broken world, and there is terrible pain (of which many friends and I have known much these past few years). Yet even as we go through these things, believers can rejoice in that we have not only a Redeemer from sin but One who is bringing restoration to our world. I pray our focus, regardless of circumstance, remains on what Jesus has done, is doing and will do.

  3. I have a simpler Explanation. Bad things happen to good people because misfortune does not discriminate on the basis of good deeds. Bad things happen to good people because probability does not exclude them.


Thanks for reading, and for sharing your thoughts. Have a great day!