Words of Healing “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away” – Jesus (Matt 24:35).

30Aug/000

Why do Bad Things Happen to Good People?

When faced with the question of whether or not there is a God, or whether or not the Bible is true, "Why do bad things happen to good people?" is, oddly enough, one of the most common questions asked. The assumption behind this questions is: If God is such a loving God, then innocent people wouldn't get hurt, there wouldn't be so much pain, and God would fix things.

The deeper question, behind the one asked is whether or not we can really trust God. We ask ourselves if God is trustworthy, and when we look around and see all the pain in the world, it makes us wonder. The question itself, intellectually, is not hard to answer. However, on an individual basis, emotionally, the answer can be hard to accept, because it requires learning to trust Him.

This question is not new, but in fact is the oldest question of them all. The question of whether or not God is trustworthy started back with Adam and Eve. It has continued to be one of the leading questions through the millenniums.

In Genesis chapter 2 we find that when God created us; he created us with the purpose of being able to take care of his creation and rule over the earth. He created us in His own image, with self-awareness, the ability to feel, the ability to think for ourselves, and a free will. He prepared a garden that was easy to maintain, where water would always be in abundance, where the fruit was bountiful, and where weeds would not overrun the garden. He also created us to be in a relationship with Him, to walk with Him and talk with Him, and with a need to be with Him.

In that beginning time, we had a purpose, a reason for living, and a personal, intimate relationship with our Creator. We never would have been lonely, for we would have had the personal relationships that our hearts need, and we would have had the perfect, intimate relationship with our Creator that our souls need. Bad things never would have happened to good people, and bad people never would have existed. However, remember, that God created us with a free will. So, as a representation of that free will, God put a tree in the center of the Garden and told us that we could not eat of it, or we would surely die.

God gave us everything we could ever want, and everything that we needed, but that wasn't enough for us. When the fallen angel, the serpent, came and tempted us, telling us of the benefits of knowledge, and the ability to be like God if we only ate the fruit, we succumbed to the temptation and did the only thing God asked us not to do. All we had to do was not eat the fruit, there was nothing else that we were told that we could not do, but that is exactly what we did.

"You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman. "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it (Gen 3:4-6 NIV).

There was only one thing that could mess up paradise, and we did it. On the promise of being like God, we decided that rebelling against him was worth it.

We thought we could do it without God

Modern movies actually portray wonderful pictures that aid in understanding the Bible. The movies, The Terminator starring Arnold Swarzeneggar, and its sequel both give a picture much like that of the story of Adam and Eve. In the movie The Terminator, humans create artificial intelligence; they create machines in mankind's image. However, those machines soon begin to think that they can rule the world as well or better than mankind--they want to be like man, and so the machines rebel against mankind and try to wipe them out. They do not trust mankind to do what's best for them, so they try to destroy all mankind. However, in the end, mankind destroys the machines showing that the created is never greater than the creator.

Now, let's add to the plot of The Terminator, and say that when mankind designed the machines, the programming they designed into them made it so that the machines would never be complete without humans, that without human interaction that the machines would always be lonely. What would happen then if the machines were able to obliterate mankind? They might try to make imitation humans, humans that they could control. However, imitations would never reach the true nature of their creators, because machines could never replace real human interaction. So, the machines would then live a lonely, solitude life, a life of pain, because they were separated from their creators. They were designed to have human interaction, but they rebelled against the humans and now suffer pain.

Similarly, when we rebelled against God and were separated from Him, like the machines, we fought against God--in a sense--in order to gain our freedom from our Creator. Then, because He loved us, He allowed us to leave our relationship with Him, and did not destroy us for that choice as the humans did to the machines in The Terminator. However, we were designed and created to be in a relationship with our Creator. So, we started making false religions, false spiritualities, and even idols to try to represent our soul's needs to be close to our Creator. Obviously, none of the images, and none of the spirituality could replace our need for our true God, but we couldn't turn to Him because He was less controllable than the idols--we believed that He was less trustworthy than idols we could make with out own hands.

We were created to have a personal, intimate relationship with our Creator, but because of Adam and Eve's sin, we separated ourselves from God, and now every single human alive suffers from loneliness, a lack of completion. We know that we were created for a greater purpose than this, but we never seem able to find that purpose. We were created to be in a relationship with God, but our separation from him has left us with a sense of meaninglessness. We go to work, we go home to eat and sleep, and then we go to work again.

Solomon, renowned for his wisdom, started the book of Ecclesiastes this way:

"'Meaningless! Meaningless!' says the Teacher. 'Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.' What does man gain from all his labor at which he toils under the sun? Generations come and generations go, but the earth remains forever. The sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises. The wind blows to the south and turns to the north; round and round it goes, ever returning on its course. All streams flow into the sea, yet the sea is never full. To the place the streams come from, there they return again. All things are wearisome, more than one can say. The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its fill of hearing. What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun" (Eccl 1:2-9 NIV).

Something within us tells us that the way the world is right now isn't the way things are supposed to be. We know that we were created for something better. That's why we so often ask why bad things happen, because we know that the world isn't supposed to be like this. The selfish and evil people are not supposed to prosper while the good people suffer. Innocent children are not supposed to be hurt and killed as we see happening all around us. We long for God to come down and make things right but it seems that He never comes, and as a result, we blame Him for all the evil things that take place on this world. But it was not God that chose to reject us, but we who chose to reject His leadership and do things our own way. He simply gave us the necessary function, a free will, to be able to make that choice.

It is our rebellion that keeps God from coming and fixing things. It is our rebellion against the Creator that keeps us from ever trusting him. Because of Adam and Eve's sin, we were separated from God, and because we choose not to trust Him and not to serve Him, He keeps that gap between us because He will never force anyone to serve Him. We crave the relationship with our Creator, but we're afraid of it at the same time. That's why so many people have chosen to serve other gods, idols that they can control, because we feel we can trust anything that we can control. Even angels, God's created beings are more popular in America today than God himself is. Why? Because angels aren't as intimidating, they're more controllable. Something in our heart tells us that we can't trust God. However, the very reasons we don't trust him are the very reasons we should trust Him.

Why is there pain?

We don't seem to want to trust God because of the fact that He created pain. There is pain as we live on this earth, but God gave us this pain for a reason. We have the pains of loneliness, the pain of loss and death, and the pain of never feeling that our lives are complete, but we have these pains so that we can identify the problem. Philip Yancey points out in his book, Where is God When it Hurts, that people who have leprosy often lose their limbs. Contrary to what people commonly believe, they don't just lose their limbs because they fall off, they lose their limbs because their nervous system doesn't let them know when they are hurt. They don't feel pain, and as a result, they lose limbs because they never get hurt or feel pain, then because they don't know that they are injured, they can get gangrene, etc. In some cases, it was found that rats would chew their fingers off while they slept, but they would wake up later wondering what happened. In other cases, some of those with leperosy had seemingly inhuman strength, but it was because they never felt pain, and so they paid a heavy price for that inhuman strength and loss of pain. Philip Yancey wrote:

...leprosy's numbing quality is precisely the reason for the fabled destruction of tissue. For thousands of years people thought the disease itself caused the ulcers on hands and feet and face that so often led to infection and ultimately loss of limbs. Dr. Brand's pioneering research in India established that in virtually all cases leprosy only numbs the extremities. Tissue damage results solely because the warning system of pain has fallen silent.1

Philip Yancey also gives clues to what the world would be like if we didn't feel pain, or if we were indifferent to pain, with what stuck out to me as one of the most horrifying stories of all:

Congenital indifference to pain poses unique problems of child-rearing. One family told of a horrifying incident that occurred when their infant daughter grew four teeth. The mother, hearing the baby daughter laughing and cooing in the next room, went in expecting to find some new game the child had discovered. She screamed. Her daughter had bitten off the tip of her finger and was playing in the blood, making patterns with the drips.

How do you explain the danger of matches, knives, and razor blades to such children? How do you punish them? The little girl, seeing the effect of her "game" on her mother, started using it mischievously. Whenever her mother forbade her to do something, the girl would put her finger in her mouth and begin to bite it. By the time she reached sixteen, she had chewed off all her fingers.

About a hundred cases of this strange affliction have been reported on in medical literature. One seven-year-old picked at her nose until her nostrils became ulcerated. An eight-year-old English girl, in a fit of anger, pulled out all but nine of her teeth and poked both eyes out of their sockets. Afflicted children can impress their friends with bizarre feats like pushing a straight pin through their fingers.

But insensitivity to pain dooms such people to lives of constant peril. They can sprain a wrist or ankle without knowing it, or bite through their tongues while chewing gum. Joints deteriorate because they fail to shift weight while sleeping or standing. One afflicted woman lost her life because she could not feel a simple headache, the warning symptom of a serious illness.

These people can undergo surgery without anesthesia, but how do they know when the surgery is required? Whereas a healthy person would feel symptoms in advance of a heart attack or appendicitis, they feel nothing. Where most people would respond immediately, spurred on by pain, the congenitally insensitive must consciously attend to the faintest clues and ponder the appropriate response. A tickling sensation in the abdomen ... does that mean my appendix has burst?2

With this graphic illustration of why pain is necessary, it is no wonder to me that Philip Yancey calls pain a gift:

Pain is not God's great goof. The sensation of pain is a gift--the gift that nobody wants. More than anything, pain should be viewed as a communication network… a remarkable network of pain sensors stands guard duty with the singular purpose of keeping me from injury.3

God created pain so that we would know that something is wrong. We feel the pains of loneliness, emptiness, meaninglessness, and the suffering of watching bad things happen to good people, and this reveals to us that something is terribly wrong with our world today. This pain is like the pain a person without leprosy feels when a rat starts chewing their finger. A person without leprosy wakes up, shoos the rat away, and saves his fingers. However, some people have numbed themselves to the pain surrounding them, and their souls are slowly eaten away as they become numb to the devastation around them. However, for those of us who are not numb to the atrocities that are taking place in our world, the pain that we feel reveals the gap that was created between mankind and God when mankind sinned in the Garden of Eden. This pain reveals that there is something in need of fixing, and that we need a Fixer.

So, our hearts realize that we are in pain, that the world at large is in pain. After we realize the pain that we're in, we can choose to do a couple of different things. We can choose to ignore it and become indifferent to pain, letting rats chew off our fingers, or biting off our fingers ourselves without realizing the danger. Some people have numbed themselves so completely to emotional pain that they will cut and mutilate their bodies just to see whether they're really alive or not. The alternative to becoming numb, of course, is that we can choose to feel the pain and seek medical help, or in this case seek spiritual help.

We need someone to bandage our wounds and help us to heal from the pain caused by our separation from God. If we are numb or become indifferent to pain, we will not recognize our need for a doctor. Many of us want the pain to be healed, but at the same time, we refuse the remedy, a relationship with God, because the questions keep drilling our hearts and minds. We may even realize that pain is necessary but wonder why God allows it. If God is in control, why would He allow us to sin and allow His world to be filled with such turmoil, because--after all--if we were God we would not allow such atrocities to take place. We don't trust God because we believe that if He were truly a loving God that He would fix all the bad things that are taking place on earth. If He were truly good, then He would come down and wipe out all the bad things, and we would live in a utopian society with no evil.

What would happen if God intervened?

There's a song sung by Bette Midler that states, God is Watching us from a distance. The song exclaims that from "a distance" the world looks calm and peaceful and that God is watching us from that distance. That song makes it clear that the person who wrote it cannot picture a God that actually knows the horrible things that are going on and not do anything about it. So, they think that God is way off in the distance, not really knowing what's going on with His creation. He created us and then just left us alone to do whatever we want. So, I'll in turn ask you a question: If God were watching us, and He decided to do something about all the evil taking place--what would the price of such an action on God's part be?

In order for God to come down, take over, and make it so that bad things can't happen any more, He would have to take away our free will. You would all of a sudden find yourself unable to watch an R-rated movie. You would never again be able to overindulge in chocolate. On the weekend when you want to go out and get drunk, you would find that you weren't able to get drunk, as soon as you started to get a buzz, you would find yourself unable to drink more. You wouldn't be able to skip church on Sunday. You would not be able to cuss someone out when they accidentally cut you off on the freeway. You would read your Bible everyday instead of romance novels or instead of watching movies. In fact, you probably wouldn't be able to watch TV at all, because in the long run it's not beneficial. Every wife would submit to her husband, and every husband would serve his wife. No arguments would take place and everyone would have to look out for other people's best interests before their own.

Now, to some of you that may not seem so bad a thing, but remember, you wouldn't be doing these good things because you wanted to, instead you'd be doing them because God would be controlling you. In fact if God didn't force your mind into believing that you wanted to do good things, you might even still want to watch R-rated movies, but every time you'd try to walk into the theater, you'd find yourself unable to do it, as if you hit an invisible wall. When the guy cut you off on the freeway, you'd want to scream out obscenities, but instead, against your will, "Jesus loves you," would come out of your mouth as you waved to the driver with a big smile. Sometimes you might want to be selfish and sit down in front of the TV while your spouse gets the kids ready for bed, but instead you would be forced to go and do it yourself to let your spouse rest. You would never be allowed to have a selfish moment. Therefore, God could keep us from hurting other people. He could make this into a utopian world, but what would the price be...?

However, you might say, "No, I don't want God to control us. I want him to give us the desire to want to do good things. That's the goal of the Christian life after all, to be transformed by God by the renewing of our minds in Christ Jesus." To this I must agree that that is my desire as well. Unfortunately, here too, there would be a loss if God stepped in and did it himself. If we were not given the choice of whether or not we wanted to sin or wanted to live righteously, would we ever be able to mature, and would I really be who I am, who God created me to be, if I did not have free will in these matters.

There's a story by David and Karen Mains in the book, Tales of the Resistance that I read as a child. In the story this girl finds a baby dragon. She knows that they are not allowed to keep dragons as pets because they're dangerous. However, the baby dragon looks so cute and innocent, and so she decides to break the rules a little bit and brings the baby dragon to a secret hideout. She feeds it and takes care of it, and soon it becomes a big fire-breathing dragon, and it starts wreaking havoc. She knows that she has to stop it before it hurts people, so she runs to the hermit for help. He comes out and upon seeing the dragon, gives her his axe with which she should kill it. She doesn't want to kill the dragon, she asks the hermit to kill him for her, but the hermit tells her that he can only give her the tools with which to kill it. If he killed it himself, she would always resent him. So, reluctantly, she kills her pet dragon.

Similarly, in my life, there have been pet dragons (sins). God could have come in and taken away my desire for these sins and made me instantly into a "better person," but would I really be a better person, and would I really even be me anymore? I can tell you honestly that there are so many times that I prayed that God would take away the desires I had for my little "pet sins." However, he had already given me the tools with which to strike down the power they had over me, but I had to choose to use those tools myself and I had to choose what I wanted more--Him or the pet sin.

God wants to give us the desire to do good, and in time, He will wipe out all the evil that exists upon this earth, and we will be with Him, and we will be like Him. However, he doesn't want to force His will upon us, because then it wouldn't really be our will to serve Him but His, and we would be nothing but obedient puppets. We often wish that God would come in and take over, right all wrongs, and keep people from doing evil things. However, when we're faced with the truth that God would then be keeping us from doing things we might want to do, that He would not allow us to rebel against Him--then all of a sudden we don't want God to step in quite as much. We only want him to stop the "really bad people," we don't want Him to change us. Most of us have a pet sin that is still lingering somewhere in the background. Most often, we want to do good, we want to love God the most, but we also want the pet sin, and so we live a life of contradiction. We become double-minded. We want God in our lives, but we also want our pets. If God were to take over your life right now how many habits would instantly change? How many people would you have to go and apologize to if God suddenly changed the world to where we wanted to do good.

God offers us that chance. Through Jesus Christ, He gives us the tools that we can use to strike down the bad things in our lives, the way we live selfishly and hurt others. However, He will not force us to apologize or forgive anyone, nor does he force anyone else to apologize to you or forgive you. He doesn't make you want to obey the speed limit, and he doesn't make anyone else obey the speed limit.

God is willing to come on an individual basis and help you to clean up your act, but He will never, ever do it forcefully. He created us with a free will, and in order to give us a free will, He had to give us the power to hurt one another. People have the power to hurt you, but you also have the power to hurt other people. God will not take away their free will, and He will not take away yours. If He did, then He would not be a God worth trusting. When people try to manipulate and control other people, it reveals their untrustworthiness, not their trustworthiness. In the same way, as I said, the very reason we fear trusting God is the very reason we should trust Him. He has the power and the right as our Creator to control us, but He does not, and that reveals character and trustworthiness.

The Father Heart of God

Still, another question comes to mind… Why did God create mankind if He knew that we were going to create such havoc on this earth?

To answer this question, I will go to my own desire to be a father. For some crazy reason, I want to be a father someday. I want to be a father even though I learned in Psychology class that parents are consistently more stressed out than those couples without children. In fact, the people who are the least stressed statistically are DINKs-Double Income No Kids who share equally in household work. So, why in the world would I want to have kids? Why would I want to put myself through the misery of changing diapers, having my kids throw fits as little children and then temper tantrums as teenagers? Why would I want to have kids when I know that there's a good chance that they will rebel against me? Why?--because I have a father's heart, and because I know that more stress is also followed by more joy, as you watch your children grow and mature into adults. A poem I wrote called Fatherly Desires reveals my heart:


Fatherly Desires

by Kevin K. Nelson

Lord, I want to be a father
I want to know my son
I want to have a daughter
and be proud of every one
I want to read them stories
before they go to sleep
I want to share with them
all You've shared with me

As for my son I'd like to teach him
how to be a man
how to have an open heart
and to serve the best he can
That he may grow in You
and not part from your ways
To love you with a whole heart
throughout all of his days

As for my daughter I'd like to teach her
how to know a man
by the way he serves and loves
and how he treats a woman
I'd like to take her out on dates
and love her with your love
so that she may grow and blossom
in Your light from above

Above all to love their mother
to teach by what I do
to show a servant's heart
because of my love for you
That they may never fear
or doubt their parents love
That I may be a man of my word
like my Father in Heaven above

Teach me your ways, my God
that I may know you and be known
That the world around me will abound
in the good seeds that are sown
Show me your will, my Lord
that I may always be true
So that I may teach my children
someday, all about you

Copyright © 1999, Kevin K. Nelson, all rights reserved


I will raise my children, if God ever blesses me with any, to the best of my ability. I will try to love them with the love that God, my Father, has given me. I will try to nurture them. I will teach my son as one quote says: that the stronger a man is-the gentler he can afford to be. I will teach my daughter that real men treat women with respect and dignity, and I will try to teach them this by doing it, by allowing them to watch me love and serve their mother. However, though I will try to give them good things, protect them from some of the pains of life and the consequences of rebellion, I refuse to try to control my children. I want my children to love and respect me because they want to, not because I make them. There are two ways to win a child's obedience: one is love and the other is fear. I plan to ask my children to obey me because they love me, not because they are afraid of me. However, there is a price that I pay if they rebel. If I open up my heart with all the love I have for them, if I let down every wall that I could put up to protect myself from hurt, and then if they rebel against me, it will be one of the greatest pains of my life. It will hurt most because I will know that all I did was to love them, allow them to know me, and set up rules in order to help them succeed. However, some children want to go their own way, to rebel against their father, even when the only thing the father does is try to keep them from hurting themselves.

I have seen parents who have suffered the turmoil of watching their children rebel against them. I have seen parents torn apart even when it is an adopted child that chooses to rebel-even though when they adopted him as a teenager they knew that it was likely that the child would soon rebel, but it didn't keep the parents from being hurt and broken. The teenager they adopted was afraid of another family rejecting him, so even when he found a family that was going to love him regardless of what he did, he still wouldn't trust them, and as a result the teenager never found love-because he rejected it-not because it wasn't there. In this same way, God loves us as His children, and when we choose to reject Him and rebel against Him, it breaks His heart. We've been hurt by our parents, we've seen authority abuse the power they have, and then we look at God like that orphan looked at the adopted parents-as just another authority that is going to let us down. However, God has proven His love. As the Creator, He has the right to crush our pitiful rebellion, and He has the right as our Creator to destroy us. However, because He loves us as His own children, He allows us to go our own way if we so choose, but His arms are waiting for us if we choose to return.

The story of the Prodigal Son that Jesus shared reveals God's heart toward us. A son, likely in his teen years, became restless working for his father and wanted to go out and see the world. He asked his father for his inheritance, in essence, telling his father that "dad, you're not dying fast enough." Surprisingly, the father gave his son exactly what he wanted. He divided up his property, sold half of it and gave it to his son. The son went off and wasted all the money from his dad's property on frivolous things, and when a famine hit the land, he was completely unprepared. The son ended up feeding pigs, and became so hungry that he longed to eat from the same trough as the pigs ate. To the Jews that Jesus was telling this story to, this was a horrid thing because pigs were unclean and dirty animals and to even touch them would be to make yourself unclean-to eat with them would be detestable. Then, this unclean son, who had insulted his father, squandered his father's hard earned money, and then made himself unclean realized that he was better off working as a servant for his father then working for the pig farmer. So, he swallowed his pride, and walked home. When he got near to his house, his father not only accepted him back, but was watching for his son's return, and when he saw his son ran directly to him-embracing his long lost son-loving him unconditionally. He accepted his son back, not as a servant, but as his son. He put the best robe on his son's back and the family ring on his finger, and then he held a party and they ate the fattened lamb, (the hundred-year-old Dom Perignon), and had a wonderful celebration-"for his son was lost but now is found, was dead, but is now alive again." This is how God treats those of us that choose to quit rebelling against Him and return to our Father's house.

Nothing can separate us from God's love, and He is waiting. He is broken because we have chosen to reject Him even though all He did was love us. In the final attempt to show us that He truly loved us, He offered us His own life, to do with Him as we chose. He chose the ultimate task of self-sacrifice to show us that it is not whether or not He is trustworthy, but whether or not we will trust Him and quit trying to rebel. To try to prove to us that He had our best interests at heart, He allowed us to crucify Him. This proved once and for all time that He is not just sitting by letting the earth suffer in turmoil, but is actively taking part in our lives, hoping that we will see in Him the Father, the Creator that our soul longs to know, that our soul was created to know. He is waiting for us to turn away from our rebellion, and turn to the love that He has for us, the love that we need.

The cost of accepting God's leadership

But this brings us to yet another question. If we choose to trust God, doesn't this mean that we have to give up who we are and become slaves? Doesn't this mean that we'll never have any fun?

The answer is that yes, God has laid down some ground rules, but they are for our own good, not so that He can be some dominating authority. If God wanted to throw His authority around, He could very easily control us and turn us into robots that did exactly what He wanted, but God is not like that-He is a loving father. When parents try to keep their children from doing drugs, drinking, and hanging out with people who are a bad influence-are they doing it just so that they can be controllers. No! A loving parent tries to keep their child from these sorts of things for the child's own protection. Parents tell their children not to touch the stove so that they don't get burned. However, regardless of warnings, some children will always decide to touch the stove and see why they're not supposed to. God has laid down rules that he asks us to follow, but they are for our own good, not so that He can feel powerful.

God has a Father's heart, and one that surpasses any feelings I have about being a Father. He created all of mankind even though He knew that most of us would rebel against Him. However, He did not allow the people that would rebel against Him to ruin eternity for those of us that would be His children, just like a father would not disown his youngest son because the eldest son decided to rebel-that would not be fair to the youngest son. He loved His children enough to put up with thousands of years of rebellion just so that any of us could enter into His eternal paradise that choose to accept him as our Father once again. He extends this gift of eternal life to anyone that wants to accept it, but with that gift of living in the Father's house, He asks us to obey His rules. He is the King of a Kingdom, and in order to enter into that Kingdom we must become His subjects. Many fathers have come to that point in life where their children will not obey, and they say the infamous "My way or the Highway," or as my father told me, "You're free to move out at any time, but if you want to live here you'll obey our rules" (exactly the same thing-minus the cliché).

God could have done it differently. When mankind sinned, he could have completely wiped us out. However, He created us as His children, and for those of us that would cast aside that rebellion and choose to follow Him, He decided not to destroy mankind. The Bible declares that many times, God was grieved that He had created mankind, and during the time of Noah He had in mind to destroy mankind forever. However, for the sake of the one righteous man, God spared all of mankind. That is God's Father heart, not punishing one son for the sins of the others, and forgiving any of his children that choose to return home, and accepting them as if they had never rebelled in the first place.

So, God has proven his trustworthiness by allowing us to maintain our free will even though it hurts him greatly. When parents have to discipline their kids the first time, it often causes them to cry, but over time they often learn to numb out the pain of having to discipline their children. However, while parents can learn to harden their hearts against rebellious children, and learn to reject the pain that they feel from their children's rejection of their love-in contrast, God never hardens His heart. Every time we sin, we reject Him, and we break His heart. Through thousands of years of rebellion against His authority, He still loves us as His children, and anyone who calls on His name will find Him. I find it absolutely amazing that God has never hardened His heart against us, and that He is still willing to put up with us-with people like me.

If we were in His place, we would have lashed out at the ungrateful creation and destroyed them. We would have hardened our hearts against an ungrateful creation and turned them into Crispy Critters. "How dare they put their God, Savior and King on a Cross. I'm not gonna hang here and die for them. I'll just let them die, they're the ones that deserve it…" and in His place, that is exactly what we would have done. However, God loved His creation as His own children, and instead of lashing out at us, which would have been His right as the creator, He decided to prepare a way for us to enter back into the relationship with Him that we were created to be in. For our rebellion against Him, there had to be punishment. If someone commits a murder, they must serve their punishment. However, God loved us enough that He was willing to bear that punishment Himself. As our Creator, He was the only one who was capable of taking our sin upon Himself and paying the penalty for sin in order to allow us into Heaven, and at the same time reveal to us that the temptation in the Garden of Eden was a lie. God is not holding out on us. God is not trying to keep us from having knowledge. God is not a malevolent dictator, but He is, instead, a loving Father who was willing to suffer Himself, so that we could know that He has our best interests at heart. God gave us the original rule because He knew that if we ate that forbidden fruit that bad things would happen to good people. He warned us, but we didn't listen. He also knew that the ultimate bad thing, the full consequences of sin would be manifested and laid upon the person of Christ and that He would endure the punishment of Hell in the place of all who would call on His name and come back underneath His leadership as our Creator and God, Savior and King. That was the worst thing happening to the best person. Jesus came to earth to show us that the reason bad things happen to good people is because of our rejection of Him, not because He didn't care. He cared enough to come to earth and show us who He was, but we didn't want a Savior, we wanted to rule our own lives. So, in the most defiant act of rebellion since the creation of the world, we put our Savior and King on the cross to die.

So, why do bad things happen to good people-because we rejected the only one who could help, and even today we continue to reject His authority. We think of all sorts of clever reasons and questions to tell us that it's alright to reject His authority. However, God got rid of all excuses to reject His authority when He died on the cross, for you and for me.

The Bible declares, "We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way..." (Isa 53:6 NIV) In Adam and Eve's place, we also would have eaten the fruit in the pursuit of "being like God." However, through Christ, we can once again enter back underneath the loving leadership of our Creator, entering into the relationship that our soul longs for. God gave us pain so that we would recognize our loss and turn back to the only one that can save us from ourselves and the destruction we have caused in this world. He gave us pain so that we would see that something is wrong, and realize that bad things happen to good people because of our rebellion against a loving God.


FootNotes

1) Philip Yancey, Where Is God When It Hurts (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1990), p.38

2) Philip Yancey, Where Is God When It Hurts (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1990), p.45.

3) Philip Yancey, Where Is God When It Hurts (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1990), p.34

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