The question has been asked over and over, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” But the opposite question we don’t raise so often. Perhaps it is because we all tend to think of ourselves as good people. So when things we consider bad happen to us we think there must be something wrong or we wouldn’t be having such bad things to happen. Very seldom have I had anyone who was ill or had an accident or even was the victim of some crime, to say I have lived such a horrible life that I am getting what I deserve. But there is no way I could count the number of times I’ve had people to say, “I just don’t understand why this is happening to me. I’ve lived a good life and always gone to church and tried to live right.”
It might help for us to remember an event that took place in the life of Jesus. A rich young ruler ran to him and bowed before him, saying, “Good master, what good thing should I do that I might have eternal life?” Jesus answered him, “Why do you call me good? There is none good but one, that is God.” I don’t think Jesus was saying that he wasn’t good. But the young man didn’t recognize him as God in the flesh so Jesus asked him why he called him good.
Truthfully we may be good morally. We may be good in the sense that we obey the law of the land, are faithful husbands and wives and work at being the right kind of parents to our children. But all of us sin. In Romans 3 Paul goes through a series of quotes from the Old Testament declaring the guilt of everyone. “There is none righteous, no not one. All we like sheep have gone astray, everyone to his own way.” “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”
One of the best men described in the Bible was a man named Cornelius who feared God with all his family, prayed to God daily and gave freely of his goods to others. God sent an angel to Cornelius to say his prayers and gifts had come up as a memorial before God and he was to send for a man named Peter who would tell him and his family what they needed to do to be saved. He was good morally and very religious, but still needed to be saved from his sins.
John even wrote to Christians in I John 1:8-10 to say, “If we say we have not sinned we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we do not sin we make God a liar and his word is not in us.”
One of the best, most devoted Christians to ever live was the apostle Paul. Yet when we read 2 Corinthians 11 we hear him saying that his suffering is what he glories in as a faithful servant of God. He was beaten several times, was stoned and left for dead, was imprisoned, shipwrecked, homeless and hungry. In chapter 12 he tells of his thorn in the flesh that he asked God three times to take away but God told him no, that his strength is made perfect in weakness, so Paul gloried in his weakness, knowing that when he was weak he was strong. Instead of asking why bad things happened to him when he loved and served God, he saw his suffering and pains as a way to glorify God.
If we really think bad things shouldn’t happen to relatively good people, then it should follow that good things shouldn’t happen to those who are living in rebellion to God. But Jesus said, that God caused his rain to fall and sun to shine on the evil and good alike. Spiritual blessings are limited to those who are in Christ (Ephesians 1:3). But physical blessings are given to all alike. Truthfully we sometimes suffer because we are Christians, not in spite of it. But Paul said in 2 Corinthians 4:16 “Our momentary light afflictions work for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, for this reason we do not lose heart. Though our outward man perishes our inward man is being renewed day after day. For this reason we do not look at the things that are seen but the things that are unseen for the things that are seen are temporary but the things that are not seen are eternal.”
If good only happened to good people and bad things only happened to bad people it would be logical to do good so we could be healthy, wealthy and wise. But God causes all things to work together for good for those who love God and are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28). It takes the bad and good to train us for life and for eternal life. God’s rewards aren’t all given in this life. Actually, very few of God’s rewards are given in this life. The scales will only be balanced in eternity. “If in this life only we have hope we are of all men most to be pitied.”
Good things happen to bad people to open their eyes to what can be true for them forever.