Why do bad things happen to good people?

bad-things-good-peopleOGI am preparing to teach our upcoming Connect Group at Southern Calvert Baptist Church and the title of this article is the title of our lesson. We are going to take a look at Job to discover why bad things happen to good people and what that means for us today. For the purpose of time, we have selected chapters and verses that will capture the heart of Job’s story. Our chapters for consideration are Job 1, 9, and 42. The three main characters of this story are God, Satan, and Job.

I. God

We begin the story with God because He is the Creator. In this book of the Bible, God is presented as Elohim (All Powerful, Creator) and Jehovah (the Self-existing One). Both of these two descriptions are very important to the story of Job.

6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them. (Job 1)

First of all, we see that God interacts with His creation. God is a relational being. God did not set everything in motion and then remove Himself to see how everything would play out. God is involved with the daily activities of His creation. God even interacts with Satan, the fallen creation of God.

7 The LORD said to Satan, “From where do you come?” Then Satan answered the LORD and said, “From roaming about on the earth and walking around on it.”

8 The LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered   My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil.” (Job 1)

God initiates the conversation with Satan. He is the One who brings Job to Satan’s attention. God knows Job personally.

10 “Have You not made a hedge about him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. (Job 1)

God had placed a hedge around Job and his family. He would not allow Satan to do anything to Job without permission.

12 Then the LORD said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your power, only do not put forth your hand on him.” So Satan departed from the presence of the LORD. (Job 1)

God is sovereign over the lives of individuals, as well as over the life of Satan. Unless he has God’s permission, Satan can do nothing to God’s people. We learn all of these things about God because of Job’s story. This is one of the reasons why God allows bad things to happen to good people, because in the midst of suffering, we learn new insights about the character of God. There is more to learn about the character of God through this story.

II. Satan

The name Satan means adversary/challenger. Satan is the enemy of God and because mankind is God’s culmination of creation, mankind, by default, is Satan’s enemy as well.

6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them. (Job 1)

Satan was created by God but, not in his current state. When he decided to oppose God, he lost his position of being a child of God. That is why he is separated in verse 6 from the children of God.

7 The LORD said to Satan, “From where do you come?” Then Satan answered the LORD and said, “From roaming about on the earth and walking around on it.”

Satan has access to the earth. He roams the earth looking for people to devour, according to I Peter 5:8.

9 Then Satan answered the LORD, “Does Job fear God for nothing?

10 “Have You not made a hedge about him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. (Job 1)

Satan was familiar with the hedge of protection that God had placed around Job and his family because Satan had attempted to harm Job but could not get passed the hedge. Satan accuses Job of respecting God because of all of the blessings in his life from God. Satan accuses Job of not of not having a genuine relationship with God. He accuses Job of having a superficial relationship with God.

11 “But put forth Your hand now and touch all that he has; he will surely  curse You to Your face.” (Job 1)

Satan believes that Job’s faith will not endure suffering. This is another truth that we learn from suffering, it reveals the genuineness and depth of our faith. Either faith will crumble or remain when pressed by persecution.

III. Job

Job is a man of faith. That faith is going to be tested and proven because of suffering. Here is what God says about Job.

8 The LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered   My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil.” (Job 1)

Job is a servant of the Lord. He has a great relationship with God. God also says that Job is blameless and upright. Job also respects God and he demonstrates that respect by turning away from evil. He is accused by Satan of not having a genuine relationship with God. Job does not know this. Job suffers greatly at the hands of Satan. How is Job going to respond?

20 Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head, and he fell to the ground and worshiped.

21 He said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked I shall return there. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD.”

22 Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame  God. (Job 1)

Job chooses to worship God in the midst of suffering. He chooses to bless the name (character) of God. Suffering does not drive Job to sin. Many people turn to many different vices in the midst of suffering. Many addictions are formed in the midst of suffering. Job does none of that.

Yet, even though Job is standing strong, he begins to lose heart in the face of heavy suffering. We see this in Job 9. Up to this point, no one really gives Job some good advice. His wife tells him to turn away from God. His friends accuse him of having hidden sin and therefore God is punishing him. This starts to get to Job.

14 “How then  can I answer Him, And choose my words before Him?

33 “There is no umpire between us, Who may lay his hand upon us both.

34 “Let Him remove His rod from me, And let not dread of Him terrify me. (Job 1)

As Job begins to lose heart, he gets frustrated because he wants to plead his case before God. In the midst of that, he decides that it would be great to have a mediator between God and man. This foreshadows the person of Jesus Christ who is coming to be the Mediator between God and man. But, back to the story, Job begins to think that maybe God is the One causing all of this to happen because Job does not know the full picture, as we do.

Finally, the picture comes together in Job 42.

1 Then Job answered the LORD and said,

2 “I know that You can do all things, And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.

3 ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ “Therefore I have declared that which I did not understand, Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.”

4 ‘Hear, now, and I will speak; I will ask You, and You instruct me.’

5 “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; But now my eye sees You;

6 Therefore  I retract, And I repent in dust and ashes.”

Job learns some new things about the character of God through this entire ordeal. Because of this, Job is transformed and, his relationship with God has been transformed. Job finally realizes his shortcomings in the midst of all of this. He needs counsel. He needs knowledge. He needs instruction. God is the One who offers all of these things, especially in the midst of suffering. Job’s relationship with God becomes more personal. Before all of this, God knew Job intimately but Job had much to learn about God. Suffering was the catalyst that deepened Job’s intimacy with God. Job finally rejects the negative way of thinking about God. He is sorry that he thought and acted the way that he did. He wants to continue to walk in deeper intimacy with God.

So my dear friend, do you realize that suffering is an opportunity for you to discover if your faith is genuine or not? We want to know if our faith is genuine and suffering is the crucible that reveals the genuineness of it. Did you know that? Genuine faith will help you endure suffering. Superficial faith will buckle under the weight of suffering. May the Lord help our faith be genuine so that we can endure suffering by the mercy and grace of God.

2 comments on “Why do bad things happen to good people?

  1. Pingback: Joseph: Forgiveness and Service | Erik and Elena Brewer's Weblog

  2. Pingback: Rebellion, Revolt, and Rejection | Erik and Elena Brewer's Weblog

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