If there really is a God, why do bad things happen to good people?
The inability of some to reconcile the existence of a loving God with that of an evil and depraved world is one of the primary reasons why many reject the message of the Bible. However while tragedy may prompt some to question the existence of God, in truth, it is only by turning to God that any real answers can be found.
The Bible teaches that God created the whole universe. He created our world and everything in it, but the world he created was very different from the world we live in today. Genesis 1:31 says that "God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good." However when Adam and Eve disobeyed God everything changed, sin and death entered into the world.
God created man with a free will - the ability to make choices. He could have made us like robots, preprogrammed to love and obey him. Instead he gave us a choice, because he wanted us to come to him willingly. Mankind suffers because of its sin, and it is because of our sin that we are separated from God, who is perfect and holy. However there is hope. Our suffering need not be in vain.
The Bible says that everyone has sinned, that the punishment for sin is death (both physical and spiritual), and that our sin separates us from God. Furthermore, there is nothing we can do to obtain the holiness (or perfection) necessary to enter into God's presence. Left to ourselves, without God's intervention, we are hopeless. However because God loves us, he has graciously given us a way out of our predicament. He provided us with a substitute, Jesus Christ, who was perfect and blameless, to take our place and bear the punishment for our sins. Because he died for us we can be forgiven.
When we trust God and choose to follow him, our suffering is not in vain. The Bible says that God uses trails and obstacles to teach us and draw us closer to him.
Why Do Christians Have Trials?
It has been said that you can best discern a person's true character by observing them in times of trouble. It is easy to claim to be a faithful follower of Christ when things in our lives are going smoothly; it is often a very different story when the road gets rough. The Bible has a lot to say about trials and tribulations, and it is filled with example after example of God's faithfulness. So why do many Christians bolt at the first sign of trouble? If we really believe that God is good, why are we so quick to turn our backs on Him in anger and resentment when things don't go our way?
There are two major errors we can make regarding trials: The first mistake is the failure to anticipate trials. Jesus suffered trials. Jesus promised us trials (John 16:33). All the apostles suffered trials. Trials are an expected part of the Christian life. And, like all storms, preparation can be critical in successfully enduring them. A second mistake is to harbor a morbid fear of trials. Remember 1 Corinthians 10:13: "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it."
The Apostle Paul certainly knew sufferings (2 Corinthians 4:7-11, 16-18; 2 Corinthians 11:23-28; Hebrews 11:32-40). And he regarded them as opportunities. There are many reasons why we face trials. Here are just a few:
- To glorify God (Daniel 3:16-18, 24-25)
- Discipline for known sin (Hebrews 12:5-11; James 4:17; Romans 14:23; 1 John 1:9)
- To prevent us from falling into sin (1 Peter 4:1-2)
- To keep us from pride. Paul was kept from pride by his "thorn in the flesh" (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)
- To build faith (1 Peter 1:6-7)
- To cause growth (Romans 5:3-5)
- To teach obedience and discipline (Acts 9:15-16; Philippians 4:11-13)
- To equip us to comfort others (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)
- To prove the reality of Christ in us (2 Corinthians 4:7-11)
- For testimony to the angels (Job 1:8; Ephesians 3:8-11; 1 Peter 1:12)
When faced with times of trouble remember that God loves you, He knows what is best for you, and He has a plan for your life (Jeremiah 29:11). The Bible says: "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:35, 38-39)."
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