Why do bad things happen to good people?
“The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21).
God doesn’t always come through in the way we expect! It seems that many times, when we need to hear from God so desperately, He is silent. In our anguish we cry out to Him, just one word would be sufficient. But the heavens seem to be closed to our agony! It seems as if God has gone on vacation and has taken His checkbook with Him. Did you ever felt like that?
Job is the oldest book in the Bible. We do not know the author, but he was obviously a very sensitive man, who saw good people suffering and dying all around him while greedy, proud and selfish people prospered. He has heard all of the clever, pious attempts to explain suffering, and was as dissatisfied with the answers as we are today. So, with the inspiration of God’s Holy Spirit he wrote about why God allows bad things happen to good people.
Job was a godly man who lived about three-thousand years ago, he was a very wealthy farmer with a large family. In just one moment of time he lost everything! All of his livestock was stolen. What was not stolen was struck by lightning and killed, along with several of his servants. His seven sons and three daughters were having dinner at the eldest brother’s house, when a tornado struck the house killing all ten of them. And if this wasn’t enough, he contracts a disease that leaves him covered with boils over every square inch of his body! On top of that he could not even solicit the support of his wife who nagged him to curse God and even suggested suicide. He is left with no friends! All of his former friends turned their backs on him and even criticized him. Three of them come to his sickbed and just sit and stared at him for seven days without saying a word.
In chapter 3 Job gives a long speech lamenting about how he has been treated, in verses 1-3, he cursed the day of his birth. “Let the day perish on which I was to be born…” And Job said, in verses 24-26, “For my groaning comes at the sight of my food, and my cries pour out like water. For what I fear comes upon me, and what I dread befalls me. I am not at ease, nor am I quiet, and I am not at rest, but turmoil comes.”
Can we identify with him? Job is beginning to sound a lot like us, isn’t he?
Job continues his through chapter after chapter lamenting his treatment, never knowing why he has to suffer. He still wants to die. He is continually arguing with God about his condition. He even gets to the point where he tries to challenge God. “God has no right to treat me like this—it isn’t fair! If I knew where on earth to find Him, I’d go straight to Him” (Job 23:3, the Message).
Then God challenges Job. Job is a little terrified, so he says, “I am nothing—how could I ever find the answers? I will cover my mouth with my hand. I have said too much already. I have nothing more to say” (Job 40:4,5 (New Living Translation).
Oh but just look at Job’s end: In the end God rewards his faithfulness, by doubling his fortune. God gives him a new home, new children (He now has seven children in heaven and seven at home). He ends up richer than at the beginning. Then God scolds Job’s friends for their misguided advise, and even tells them He will have Job pray for them!
What about pain? With job God sidesteps the issue. He never explained the case to Job. The Bible always steers the issue from cause to response. Pain, suffering and sorrow have occurred, now what are you going to do? Obviously, how we respond is important to God. He responded to Job in a tornado. Our response is never, “God what are you doing TO me?” But, ”God what are You doing FOR me?” Our response should always be, “Now that this terrible thing has happened to me, what am I going to do about it?” The Word of God gives this response: “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (1 Peter 4:13,14).
The moral of Job’s story is, when hard times come your way, do not be tempted to give up your faith in God. He knows what He is doing, and if you just hang on long enough, He will compensate you for your suffering.