Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?

I got a text message from my lovely high school co-leader. She told me a tragic story about a friend who’s family has suffered a tragedy and had just gotten news of another. Her question:

Why do bad things happen to good people?

How can God let this happen?

Below was my response to her. I hope this helps you understand why. That this will allow you to lean on God, rather than pull away from Him.

My response:

You have to remember that we live in a world where sin is trying to wrestle the reigns from God’s hands. Satan is active and real. And Satan is terrified of the good, God loving people in the world. Satan knows that you have the potential to spread truth and love and joy. And Satan hates that. When bad things happen, often it is because Satan wants you to ask that question: “Why God?”

Satan wants you to question and pull away, and believe that God wants bad things and pain for us.

^That could not be further from the truth. God wants all good things for us.

When bad things happen I believe that one of two things are happening: God is trying to teach you something amazing, or Satan is jealous and trying to pull you back from God.

It can be hard to see the difference. And sometimes they are one in the same. God works in us for all good, and wants us to grow up and be wise in faith, humble, joyful, loving, and kind. Sometimes the only way to shake us from our terrible habits is to push and break. And every moment that happens God is sitting as a proud Father in heaven, wanting us to see how deep His love is.

While we are on this earth we are going to be subject, not only to our own sin, but to the sins of others. And until we are wrapped safely in heaven’s arms, we will experience unexplainable, heart breaking things. And it is how good people react to those bad things that makes people around us look up and notice.

In the most terrible times, people are watching how we react. And when we turn to God, even when it seems like God has allowed this terrible thing to happen, that we are able to show God’s great glory and love to others.

Know too, that God’s heart breaks when our heart breaks, especially when it is out of love for one another.

God never wanted this pain for us. We are the ones who strayed and changed. God is the ultimate love. The ultimate support. The ultimate forgiver. The ultimate healer. The ultimate everything.

It is my prayer that you find comfort in this post, and understand that you are fully, completely and wholely loved by God.

Verses to Read

Psalms 22

Proverbs 16:2

Job 35:13 – 14

Challenge: Read Proverbs 11 & Journal

This month we have been reading Proverbs, one chapter per day, or at least trying to. In service we have been talking about cause and effect. That the decisions you are making today will have an effect on your future self.

Our current self has been hurt by things that our past self did. And we can’t take that back. But we can make wiser choices now. The current you is shaping the future you. Are you doing the right things to create a future you that you are proud of?

I’ll repeat: Are you doing the right things to create a future you that you are proud of? I think that this is a hard question. Because right now you don’t feel like you are a bad person. Or making terrible decisions. You aren’t actively trying to destroy your future self. You are just living your life. Just getting by. Just waiting. Just working. Just existing.

And even if you feel like you are in a neutral state in terms of how it will effect your future, it couldn’t be farther from the truth. Your future you is shaped by the thoughts, actions and attitudes you have right now. No matter how innocuous your current thoughts might seem. You are either building yourself up or tearing yourself down.

How you shape your future self

Your future self is shaped by how much time you spend on your:

Faith
Family
Friends
Future

This weeks’ challenge will hit on “Faith” and “Future”. I am a firm believer in journaling, especially when you are going through something difficult or confusing. You don’t have to do it every day or even every week to get the benefits of it. But there is something about writing, with a pen and paper, that allows you to see the truth. God can to amazing, powerful things when you talk to him through writing and journalling.

Writing out prayers might feel awkward if you are not used to doing it. Try it a few times before you discount it. Don’t feel the need to edit yourself as you are writing. Your prayers don’t need to be perfect. All you are doing is writing and expressing what you are already thinking.

If you write down something that is very personal, or you don’t want someone to come across fold the page in half when you are done and tape it. The writing is between you and God.

the Challenge

  1. READ: Read Proverbs 11, the whole thing. If you can open up a printed copy of the bible, or follow the link below to read it on your phone or computer. I promise, it’s not that long.

    Read: Proverbs 11

  2. WRITE: Find a journal, open an app, tear out a sheet of paper, and write out a prayer. There is no prompt here. Just write. Write about what’s going on in your life. Write about why you are frustrated. Write about why you are happy. Write about what you thought about Proverbs 11. Just do it.

Challenge: Share Some Beauty

The evidence of God is all around us. God’s creation is beautiful and awesome.

What a wildly wonderful world, God!
You made it all, with Wisdom at your side,
made earth overflow with your wonderful creations.
Psalms 104: 24 (MSG)

There are times when we look at nature in awe and wonder. We all experience nature differently. God created us each to be unique and to connect with Him in a unique way. The way you experience God will be unique to you, and the things that capture your imagination might be different then the things that your friends or parents find beautiful.

The Challenge

  1. OBSERVE: I challenge you to really observe the nature around you: the big and the little, sunsets and stars, insects and blades of grass. Just really look at God’s creation and appreciated, instead of flying through your week by the glow of your phone.
  2. PHOTOGRAPH: During this week photograph something that you find beautiful or amazing or inspiring in nature. It could be ANYTHING.
  3. SHARE IT: Share your photo(s) on social media with the hashtag #awesomecreation and write a caption that describes how you see God in that photo.

Be Your True Self

Joy is found in us pursuing God with our full heart. Lean into the things that set your soul on fire, that make your heart sing, and move you to run to the end of the earth. Your fantastic life can be found in constantly pursuing the things that make you want to burst with joy, because God made you to be talented. I believe the things that we can’t let go of are things that God puts in our heart to pursue.

Even if you have no clue what you want or have yet to experience that thing that drives you, keep pushing. Try everything in an effort to discover what God made you to do. Pay attention to the tugging of your heart.

Happiness is found in being as God made you and follow His glorious plan for your life. You were made to do amazing things not to drag through life seeking what others think you should be. The only one who had a right to tell you who you are is your creator, God.

I pray that you live a passion filled life and that you find ease in being comfortable with who you are. Go out and be awesome.

Open Letter to Divorced Kids

I don’t know why my heart has been so stirred by stories of kids with divorced parents. It breaks my heart to see how empty and lonely they feel. Even more so, that they might not know how to have an amazing, fulfilling marriage some day. I’m writing an open letter to my students, that they may find healing and acceptance amidst a painful and uncontrollable situation.

Dear child,

You are loved. Even if you do not feel loved. Even if you feel alone and the cause of pain. You are so fiercely loved. Nothing you can do can change the fact that you are a child of God.

This world, which is full of sin, can be hard and painful. I am so sorry that you are learning this so young. My prayer is that you will find wisdom and not harden your heart.  God has such amazing things planned for your life. If you close yourself off you will miss out on so many awesome things. I hope that you will keep your heart open to love and be loved. Because no matter what you’ve been through you are deserving of love. You deserve to be loved.

I want to tell you a secret most grown-ups won’t tell you: adults don’t always behave the way they should. They are people with problems just like everyone else. And even though your parents have made choices that have deeply affected you, it does not mean that you are responsible. I know that you want to feel loved and accepted by your parents, as every child does. And sometimes it feels like your parents don’t love you when they fight or argue.

Even though this might be hard to understand, your mom and dad are hurting too. Whatever it is that has come between your parents has caused them pain. And just as you feel hurt and confused, they are feeling that too.

Know that if you don’t feel loved by them that you are loved by a perfect Father in heaven. He wants to take every pain from you. And all the things that you desire from your parents can be found in His ultimate love for you.

God loves you enough to give you the strength and wisdom beyond your years to get through this. Your life does not end here.

I want you to know that marriage is worth the fight. I know you probably don’t believe me. I want you to have an amazing, earth shattering, shooting star marriage. I want you to feel God’s love for you through your future husband or wife. I want your spouse to be fully loved by you. I want you to have a best friend that knows everything about you and can walk by your side for the rest of your lives together.

I want to tell you a secret behind every “perfect marriage”, they fight all the time. No one is perfect and we all make mistakes. We also won’t always agree on everything. When that happens strong couples put on boxing gloves and have it out. They don’t bottle it up, or lie, or ignore problems. That is how little problems become HUGE problems. There will be things that you fight about and talk to death over and over and over, because people are complicated and it is hard to change. But it is worth working through those problems for the overwhelming acceptance you feel after. Strong couples always apologize. It is never just one person’s fault. There is always something that you contributed to the situation, even if it is small.

Having a healthy marriage is hard work. But nothing compares to the deep love and acceptance that comes from a spouse that knows every part of you inside and out. It takes maturity and selflessness to have a strong marriage. My prayer is that you allow God to show you how to love and be loved.

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7