Why Do Bad Things Happen?
Tragedies occur in the lives of people every day. Here are some that have been in the news in recent days: a hydroelectric dam burst in Laos with hundreds missing and dozens presumed dead; a heat wave in Japan has taken 80 lives; wildfires in Greece have killed more than 70 people; the duck boat disaster in Branson took 17 lives; an eighteen year old woman was stabbed and killed in Oakland while waiting for the subway; a Dallas motorcycle cop was killed by a drunk driver. Each of these tragedies—and others like them that occur every day—involves real people just like you and me. When they passed from this life they left behind family and friends who are heartbroken over losing their loved one.
A question often arises in the minds of those who are confronted by a tragedy, especially those who are directly affected by it. That question is, “Why did this happen?” Philosophers and theologians have wrestled for generations to seek understanding and provide explanations to others about this facet of life. Some well-meaning but misguided people try to explain tragedies by saying, “It is just God’s will.” I completely reject that line of reasoning. Does God know everything that is going to happen? Yes. Does God cause everything that happens? No. Simply because we are human beings we are subject to all kinds of events that can bring about an unexpected end of this life. Such events include fatal illnesses, accidents, natural disasters, and criminal actions of other people. This is a fact of life that all people need to understand and accept. Many times there is just not a good explanation for why bad things happen to people.
God never promises that He would keep all bad things away from people. God has graciously provided us with His written Word to inform and instruct us about life, faith, and eternity. When we believe God and obey His instructions then we have tremendous promises from Him. Among them are that God promises to forgive our sins (Acts 2:38), to always be with us (Matthew 28:20), to never fail us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:6), to provide for our needs (Matthew 6:32-33), and to give us a home in Heaven with Him (John 14:1-3).
When we understand and accept the truth that life can end unexpectedly, then we can also understand the need to be ready for that in case it happens to us. Is it bad when a faithful Christian’s life comes to an unexpected end? No! Death will always bring sorrow and heartache to one’s family and friends but the end of this life for a faithful Christian is the beginning of a wonderful eternal life with God! The most important thing for all of us is to be sure that we are ready.