Why Does God Allow Bad Things to Happen?
Have you ever asked this question but nobody could tell you the answer? This bible study answers why God allows “bad things” to happen
Have you ever asked this question but nobody could give you an answer? In today’s Bible study we’re going to take a look at a common question asked by many
I was preparing this bible study by going through chapters in Exodus – the book that talks about the bondage and the freedom of Israel. This year, I’ve been selected passages to have bible study on with the family, and I came across Exodus 12:29-42. Exodus 12:40 is the verse that caught my eye because this scripture tells us how long Israel sojourned (lived) in Egypt (430 years). This reminded me of past questions that some who are weak in their faith asked me about God – why would He allow them to be in bondage that long? Why would God not prevent that bad thing from happening?
I knew then that this would be a great bible study to have because many of us have asked that question, and we need to have that question answered. Why doesn’t God stop those bad and evil things from happening in the world and in our life? I’m curious what your thoughts are on that question – leave a comment below if you would like to share. I am not going to spend a great deal of time talking about what led to Israel being in bondage because you’re here to have an important question answered. I will say, for those who are curious about how Israel ended up in bondage, to read from Genesis 37 – Exodus 1. Alright, let’s get to looking at this question and answering this question. As always, I am going to refer to scripture (doctrine) so if you do not believe scripture to be true, it’s likely you will not agree with much that I have to say.
Understanding the question
When we ask: “why does God allow bad things to happen?” What are we really asking? We must understand what we are asking and what we are really trying to find out. Firstly: the question both acknowledge that God is sovereign, but at the same time it questions His sovereignty. Is it wrong to question the Lord’s sovereignty? I don’t believe so – we have questions and they need to be answered so that we can believe. By asking this question, we are wondering whether or not God really is all powerful and in control of all things. If the Lord is as powerful as His believers (that’s me) say He is, then He should certainly be able to prevent bad things from happening – this is how many of us feel.
Secondly: the question also implies that the Lord does not care since He allows bad things to happen in the first place. If God really cares, like His believers (that’s me) say He does, then He should stop bad things from happening before they do. We begin to think because God did not stop that bad thing from happening to us that He does not care about us. So, what I must do in this study is show you that God is all-powerful and that God does care, while still answering the question as to why God allows bad things to happen.
How God views good and bad
We have to start here first: trying to understand the Lord. We must first acknowledge that there is simply no way that we can understand how the Lord thinks or how the Lord works. This has been something that mankind has struggled with since the beginning of mankind’s time! There are many believers who still do not quite understand the concept of not being able to understand the way the Lord thinks or His way. God tells us plainly in scripture (Isaiah 55:8) that we cannot understand His way.
“What does this have to do with anything?” you may ask. Actually, the answer is very simple: everything. We try to make the Lord’s mind and His ways work the same as ours and this is a failure on our part. We cannot tie our thoughts or our ways the Lord’s ways. We believe that the Lord should view the world as we do; therefore, the Lord should view good and bad the same way as we do. How do we view good and bad?
We believe that good and bad is as different as black and white, but frankly, we don’t even believe that ourselves. Good and bad to us is very murky – like mud in a cup of water. There are many people who would say sometimes you have to do bad things for a good outcome. We believe it is bad to kill a man, except for if he has already killed another man, or is fighting a war against us. We believe it is bad to take from a man unless we are stealing secrets from the enemy. We believe it is good for us to land a job (or promotion) unless it goes to somebody else.
These kinds of paradoxies circulate all around trying to understand good and bad. The first thing we will do when somebody else gets the job or promotion is be upset with the other person. Maybe they needed the job and the promotion just like you did, right? No; we don’t actually think that way do we?
What one may consider being a “good thing” another may consider being a “bad thing”. Politics and war are filled with this thought and they may actually represent the real truth about how we view good and bad. Republicans feel that their thoughts and way are good while Democrat thoughts and ways are not so good. Democrats feel that their thoughts and ways are good while Republican thoughts and ways are not so good. At this rate, having God do what we believe to be good would be a mess!
The Lord views good and bad drastically different from us. “How do you know?” you may ask. Well, scripture tells us plainly what good and bad is to the Lord – this is one of the main subjects in the Bible! I referenced this scripture in a recent bible study about sin, but I feel it necessary to reference this scripture (Isaiah 14:12-21) once again – read this passage. You see, we always seem to overlook what upset the Lord with Satan (Lucifer), but the Lord grew angry with Lucifer for one reason – Lucifer disobeyed.
Good to God is His way! Plain and simple, the Lord wants obedience to His way. Now, the Lord’s way consists of things like being gracious, but always overlook the concept of obedience. We must be obedient (faithful) to the ways of the Lord. Satan (Lucifer) stepped outside of this obedience, grew annoyed with following God’s way, and decided to walk in his own way which was opposite of the Lord. Any action that works opposite to the Lord’s way, God considers to be evil (wicked and bad).
Living in sin
Let us understand this perfectly clear: Good to God is His way, and bad to God is everything opposite of His way. Everything opposite of the Lord’s way is sin. Sadly, and unfortunately, all of us are sinners and there is no escaping that. As soon as we grumble or complain against God, we have sinned. When we choose not to follow the way that the Lord has opened to us, we have sinned.
God could have erased man long ago; in fact, that was the initial plan of the great flood. Because of Noah, the Lord spared this generation of mankind (we are all still a seed of Adam because of Noah). Here is, to me anyway, the great sign that shows the Lord care – His love and forgiveness. The Lord was literally going to cleanse mankind from the face of the earth and start over, but because Noah listened, God stopped from doing such a thing. Talk about trying to prevent bad things from happening, that would have done it! God promised to never do such a thing ever again (Genesis 9:12-15).
We must understand that the Lord allows us to continue to live in sin. This doesn’t sound right at first, but it is actually true. We must choose to have faith that we can be forgiven our sins through Christ or not accept His Son. Again, the bad thing here to God is not that we lived in sin, but that we chose not to have faith that we can be forgiven of our sins through His Son. Sin is mankind’s curse and it is the one thing the Lord will not allow to enter into His kingdom.
Scripture (Jude 24) tells us that the Lord is able to keep us from falling. The fall here is not a physical fall but a spiritual fall. The only failure that the Lord is concerned with is the spiritual failure. We can’t seem to wrap our minds around just how important our spirit is – we give more credence to the physical world. The Lord looks beyond this physical world and looks at the spirit. Our idea of what is good and bad, to God, maybe what we would consider to be trivial.
Does this mean that God does not care about our well being? Sure the Lord cares about our well being, but we must be faithful believers. Jesus says (John 15:7-8):
7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. 8 By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.
There are so many people who do not abide in Christ and believe that God is not being nice” to them. Which, in all honesty, is very interesting because how nice are you to those that do not believe in you (since we always try to equate God with us)? Just because we abide in Christ, as believers, that does not mean things are going to good all the time. I know that many of my fellow yokeman and fellow believers try to put that out there, but that is simply not the truth. Scripture actually says the opposite – in fact, I challenge anybody to find the scripture that says life gets easier by becoming a Christian.
Trials and tribulations
James says (James 1:2-4) that there are many differing trials, but the believer should count it all joy when they come along the way! James, the brother of Christ, tells us that there are going to be various trials (difficult times). Difficult times for us we consider to be bad times – we hate to go through struggle. However, James says (James 1:3-4), “knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete.”
Scripture says that those bad times will require patience (that is faith) and that faith itself is perfect. The way of faith has always been perfect, but we are the ones that step outside of faith and then claim that faith does not work. We are not done with this scripture yet! Those “bad things” that we complain about actually helps to build up our faith and make us perfect and complete!
For the believer, those “bad” things that God allows us to go through should work differently for us than it would the nonbeliever. God allows us to fall into trying times so that we can become perfect and complete (whole). Too often we ignore how much better of a person we are today than we were years ago – we just focus on the struggle and bad times. Our faith must never become stagnant; faith must continuously grow so that we can handle the challenges along the way.
We have these struggles so that we the believer can testify to the Lord’s way. If David did not struggle and have hard times, we would not have all of those beautiful Psalms he wrote testifying of the Lord. If the Apostle Paul did not have his struggles, we would not have the majority of the New Testament that teaches of the Lord’s love and grace. If my dad and all of those of his generation did not have their struggle, I would be like a lot of folks in the generation beneath me – lost.
Testimonies of God
We are living and breathing testimonies of the Lord. Not many people want to hear that today, but their struggle is not only for themselves but for somebody else as well. We as believers are ministers are we to share the gospel with all nations (Matthew 28:19). We should be testifying of what God has done for us, but we fail God and the nonbelievers among us. God uses us as a testimony of Himself just as He did during the bible days.
Yes, Israel was sojourned in the land of Egypt for 430 years. God prophesied to Abraham (Genesis 15:13-14) about the bondage of Abraham’s descendants (Israel). This shows that the Lord is certainly all-powerful and that He definitely could have prevented the bondage from happening. Yet, we know that God allowed this thing to happen. God also stated to Abraham the outcome of this bondage would be the judgment of Egypt and Israel leaving that land with great possessions.
Because of Israel’s bondage and then freedom, the name of God spread as Israel traveled back to the Promised Land. Israel had literally become a walking and breathing testimony of God! The other nations that dwelt in the land would speak of the power of “Israel’s God”. When Israel would end up back in captivity, the nations knew that Israel had upset “their God”.
Lazarus, the brother of Martha and Mara, had grown sick and passed away. Lazarus’ sisters were so upset that Jesus was not there to save their brother. When Jesus had arrived, Martha got on Him and said (John 11:21), “had you been here, he (Lazarus) would not have died!” Death is a terrible thing that most of us are all familiar with. All of us have asked and cried out “why” when we lose a loved one.
Scripture tells us that Jesus knew Lazarus was sick – the sisters had sent word to Him (John 11:3). Jesus chose not to go His friends; in fact, Jesus allowed Lazarus to die. “Why would Jesus allow this terrible thing to happen?” we would ask. Jesus actually tells us an answer to this question.
Jesus said (John 11:4):
When Jesus heard that, He said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”
“But Lazarus did die,” we will then say smartly. The righteous never die! I talked about death a great deal in my most recent bible study. Jesus said that “this sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified.” I want you to understand that Jesus waited 3 days before He would resurrect Lazarus from the grave. People from near and far came to see both Jesus and Lazarus (John 12:9). Lazarus was another living and breathing testimony of the glory of God!
The biggest elephant in the room is Jesus Himself. Jesus, God in the flesh, would die by crucifixion on a Roman cross for the world’s sin. Again, death, we believe to be a bad thing. Yet Jesus’ death is the propitiation of our sin. Christ’s death is the reason you or I can have the faith required to enter into the Father’s kingdom in the first place. Christ is a testimony!
Why does God allow bad things to happen?
Firstly: so that the believer can grow in faith. Without the bad, would we ever really need faith in the first place? Secondly: so that the believer can testify of the glory of God. This is what scripture teaches us. Some will say what does any of this have to do with killing, oppression, hunger, etc. We must remember that God left us to this world to have authority over this world.
We forget that the Lord simply allows life to persist (that is to play out). God did not put the bad things into the world – we did! We should take responsibility for those bad things that we have put in the world. The Lord allows you to make decisions in your life; we must take responsibility for the decisions that we have made in our life. I made a decision, health-wise, about a decade ago and now I must live with the responsibilities for the decision that I made. I cannot blame God for whatever comes because of the decision that I have made – neither can you!
We genuinely do not like to hear that “r” word – responsibility. We would like for the Lord to wipe away all of our mistakes and to prevent all of our mistakes from happening; so that we do not have to live with the consequences. “Bad” things or failure is a part of life and it helps us to grow. We should take our testimonies of those various trials that we face and get through and tell somebody about it. God wants the whole world to be saved, but if we fail to testify of the glory of God, how will that happen?
“God should do it Himself,” some will smartly say. In the end, we have missed the point completely if we’re still saying that. God gave mankind a mind to choose what is right. God says that the only thing that is right is His way. God is not a dictator – He is not going to force people to believe! God no longer begs people to believe – we, the believers, are here to testify of His name so that others can choose to believe what they wish.
The goal is Heaven – the ultimate good. Christ suffered so that we can have the opportunity to enter into heaven. Because of our sins, and living in the nature of sin, we have to suffer a while to get there. How about we suffer for a little white, and testify of how God brought us through our suffering, to show somebody else the Light? God is all-powerful. God cares.
I hope that this answers the question of why God allows bad things to happen. If you enjoyed this study, I hope that you share this study with somebody else.