Why do bad things happen? That’s a question that many of us desperately want an answer to, but we often don’t like the possible reasons that bad things happen so we don’t allow ourselves to think that there could actually be a reason. We’d rather believe there isn’t one. But the reality is, there are reasons.
One reason is that we live in a fallen world, one where sin entered through the first man and woman and has continued to run rampant. Not all things that happen to us are a direct result of our own sin. Yes, at times, the things we face are consequences of our own sin, but not everything hurtful thing we face is because of that. Sometimes it’s a result of someone else’s sin that, in one way or another, happens to affect us; and sometimes, it’s a result of the fact that sin entering the world changed the world, changed the dynamic of the way things work now. The world no longer functions in the perfect form God created it in. Evil has been allowed in, and through that evil, disease, destruction, and decay have followed. It’s something we have to deal with in this world we live in. It’s a consequence of allowing sin into this once perfect and whole world. But we don’t like to think that way, to admit that sin is the reason for our fallen and changed world. But the Bible is clear on that and we can’t ignore it and pretend it’s not true just because we don’t like it.
Not only do we not want to face the idea that we live in a broken world and that because of the sin that caused it, we now experience pain and heartache, we also don’t want to believe that God could allow the bad things in this world to happen. But the reality is, He has and He does. I can’t help but think of Job. If you read the first chapter of Job, you will quickly find that God did indeed allow bad things to happen to Job. In fact, God Himself is the one who brought Job and his upright standing with Him up to Satan. Did you get that? GOD asked Satan if he had noticed His upright servant Job! AND THEN, He put everything Job had (all the blessings and good things God had given him) in the hands and power of Satan, essentially giving Satan the power to do with it whatever he wanted (which happened to be taking it away). I also think of Simon Peter. In Luke 22, Jesus tells Simon Peter that Satan has asked to sift him as wheat—and God allowed it.
It’s not easy for us to accept this idea—that God would allow sifting, that He would allow bad things to happen, that He has given His permission for them to happen. It doesn’t sit well with us, but it’s truth. It is a reality. And there is actually a hope that comes with it.
After Jesus tells Simon Peter about Satan’s desire to sift him as wheat, Jesus goes on to say, “But I have prayed especially for you [Peter], that your [own] faith may not fail; and when you yourself have turned again, strengthen and establish your brethren.” ~Luke 22:32, AMPC
You see, while God may allow these bad things to happen in our lives, He does not allow them to be without purpose. We have that promise from God—And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. ~Romans 8:28, NASB
God can and does take those horrific events and situations in our lives and He redeems them by bringing purpose to them, by not letting them be for nothing. God does not waste a hurt. Instead, He uses it to our benefit.
Yes, I’ve been through some events and situations that I did not want to go through—things that were painful, situations I did not enjoy in any way, shape, or form. But I also know that I would not be the person I am today nor would I have the faith that I do today if I had not gone through those tough things, through those trials that God ultimately redeemed by using them to change me. There have definitely been times when I felt torn apart, times when I felt like the enemy just might get his way in destroying me and I didn’t see how good purpose of any kind could come from what I was going through. But God!—God had other plans for what the enemy meant for evil. He refashioned and repurposed those times, using them to draw me to Him, to help acquaint me more intimately with Him and His love and His power. He brought me out on the other side stronger and with more faith and more trust in Him. And with each event that happens, He only draws me closer and gains more of my trust. I am who I am today because of God’s work in my life, because of Him taking what the enemy meant for evil and giving it a purpose and using it to shape me and change me. And I am so thankful that He’s done that—that I am not the same person that I was, that I’ve grown and changed and am being made new.
And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulation, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope. ~Romans 5:3-4, NASB
Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of you faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete lacking in nothing. ~James 1:2-4, NASB
(You should] be exceedingly glad on this account, though now for a little while you may be distressed by trials and suffer temptations, So that [the genuineness] of your faith my be tested, [your faith] which is infinitely more precious than perishable gold which is tested and purified by fire. [This proving of your faith is intended] to redound to [your] praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One) is revealed. ~1 Peter 1:6-7, AMPC
What an incredible God!—to know that He can take those painful things, those things that seem to us to happen without reason and repurpose them. Things the enemy meant for evil, God repurposes to use for our benefit to mold us and shape us to be more like Him, to let the Holy Spirit grow in our lives and have more control over us, to let us learn from those things. What the enemy intended to destroy us, to bring us down, God can actually use to strengthen us, to draw us closer to Him, to show us who He is, to bring glory to Himself, to exhibit the power of His redemption.
God has the power to redesign, to reshape, and to make the pain, the hurt, the bad, and the ugly in our lives worthwhile. He is sovereign. Nothing happens outside of His knowledge—He sometimes allows Satan to poke and prod us to bring us to a place where we can be refined. And He already knows how He’s planning to use the next storm you face to bring you closer to Him; to change, shape, and mold you into being more like Him; to give you a glimpse of who He is and who He wants to be to you. Can’t you just picture our mighty God looking at Satan and saying, “Do your best, but what you intend for evil I have the power to turn around for good, to make it work for My purpose, My will, and My glory.” How frustrating that’s got to be for the enemy! And what a blessing it is for us!
Not only do we have this promise of God using even evil for ultimate good, but we can also know that the Holy Spirit Himself is interceding on our behalf just as Jesus told Simon Peter that He had done for him. In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groaning too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. ~Romans 8:26-27, NASB
God does not promise us a life without conflict or pain or hurt. Those things will happen because we live in a sinful, fallen world. We may hurt someone else or someone else may cause us pain, but those things can be redeemed with purpose. Those afflictions we face, the trials, the struggles, the pain, the temptations can all be turned around for our benefit and for His ultimate glory.
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time (this present life) are not worth being compared with the glory that is about to be revealed to us and in us and for us and conferred on us! For [even the whole] creation (all nature) waits expectantly and longs earnestly for God’s sons to be made known [waits for the revealing, the disclosing of their sonship]. Fo the creation (nature) was subjected to the frailty (the futility, condemned to frustration), not because of some intentional fault on its part, but by the will of Him Who so subjected it—[yet] with hope. That nature (creation) itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and corruption [and gain an entrance] into the glorious freedom of God’s children. ~Romans 8:18-21, AMPC