Recently a dear friend passed on to me a question asked of her and invited me to chew on it a bit and let her know what I came up with. A co-worker has been struggling with Matthew 6, where Jesus exhorts us NOT to worry about food and clothing. In context to this portion of scripture, lies her mindset, “If God is concerned about the ‘little stuff’ (food /clothing v. 24-34) and being ALL knowing, All powerful, then why … why does bad things happen to good people?” Where is God in it all? THIS is an age old struggle. One that I have set in the middle of the room and walked around it many times, sitting and pondering, get up and walk around it again. (if you will) With one resolve, I concluded… God is still GOOD.
First before we step down, and take off running, Jesus isn’t necessarily speaking to need for food and clothing, He is addressing our focus, the energy it takes. He continues with, “Your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added to you.” (v. 32b-33) Look to God, go to Him. SPEND yourself, spend your energy pursuing Him and His Stuff, FIRST.
The world is full of heartache, pain and suffering. Murder, rape, theft, decease and abuse … the list is vast is it not! “Why do bad things happen to good people?” In my research to offer some kind of an answer, I came across an
article written by Jewish Rabbi, Aron Moss. His words spoke volumes to me, rather than trying to summarize them, he has this to say:
“Why bad things happen to good people?” If this ultimate question were answered, then we would be able to make peace with the suffering of innocents. And that is unthinkable. Worse than innocent people suffering is others watching their suffering unmoved. (read THAT again!) And that’s exactly what would happen if we were to understand why innocents suffer. We would no longer be bothered by their cry, we would no longer feel their pain, because we would understand why it is happening.
Imagine you are in a hospital and you hear a woman screaming with pain. Outside her room, her family is standing around chatting, all smiling and happy. You scream at them, “What’s wrong with you? Can’t you hear how much pain she is in?” They answer, “This is the delivery ward. She is having a baby. Of course we are happy.”
When you have an explanation, pain doesn’t seem so bad anymore. We can tolerate suffering when we know why it is happening.
And so, if we could make sense of innocent people suffering, if we could rationalize tragedy, then we could live with it. We would be able to hear the cry of sweet children in pain and not be horrified. We would tolerate seeing broken hearts and shattered lives, for we would be able to neatly explain them away. Our question would be answered, and we could move on.
But as long as the pain of innocents remains a burning question, we are bothered by its existence. And as long as we can’t explain pain, we must alleviate it. If innocent people suffering does not fit into our worldview, we must eradicate it. Rather than justifying their pain, we need to get rid of it.
So keep asking the question, why do bad things happen to good people. But stop looking for answers. Start formulating a response. Take your righteous anger and turn it into a force for doing good. Redirect your frustration with injustice and unfairness and channel it into a drive to fight injustice and unfairness. Let your outrage propel you into action. When you see innocent people suffering, help them. Combat the pain in the world with goodness. Alleviate suffering wherever you can.
We don’t want answers, we don’t want explanations, and we don’t want closure. We want an end to suffering. And we dare not leave it up to G-d to alleviate suffering. He is waiting for us to do it. That’s what we are here for.” (emphasis mine) — Thank you Rabbi Aron.
Working through this these last couple of weeks, I was amazed when sitting in church, the guest speaker, a missionary in the Philippines by the name of Mark, stood before us. With a transparency that had us all leaning forward eager to hear, he shared what was for me, the missing element to my quest. He bluntly, yet so tenderly stated, “It is not WHY, we should ask, but … ‘WHAT?’ From there, I got my own little sermon whispered in my ear from the Holy Spirit. “What Lord do You want me to do now… What do You want me to learn … What part do I have in this?”
“Why?” Tends to just seek an answer, “What?” Can lend to ACTION! “What do I ‘DO’, what do I ‘learn.’ Heartache and pain, does indeed generate the ‘whys’, let’s do our best to generate action, with a WHAT!
I do not know if this answers the question for this gal, yet I do know for myself, it helps me to remember to continue to spend my energy on seeking God and God stuff. Challenging me, being aware of my God starts when I learn and accept the limitations of my own self-sufficiency. Where is God? He is … in ME! He desires to use me. Use me to help reduce someone’s pain, remove the suffering. Also, that we live in a fallen world, where fallen and sinful humans dwell, where bad things happen. But God.
I will leave us with, “Do things for people not because of who they are or what they do in return, but because of who YOU are” ( Harold S. Kushner) I will add, because of ‘Whose’ you are. We are children of the Most High King, now go…
In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love & good deeds.” – Heb. 10:24)