Why Bad Things Happen to Good People

1 05 2010

In all likelihood, you’ve probably never heard of Jim Allen. I’ve never met the man myself, but feel as if he and I were old friends. On April 15, 2010, Jim Allen lost his battle with multiple myeloma. From the way his wife speaks of him, it is obvious he was a good, good man. He was a good provider. He was well liked by co-workers. He was a man of strong character. He was a man of strong faith. Jim was only 49 years old.

Go back two years. My brother-in-law, Ray Owens, died of the same devastating disease. Ray, too, was a good man. I’ve never known anyone like Ray. It didn’t make any difference who you were, or if he even knew you; if you asked Ray Owens for help of any kind, he would respond. Ray, while lying on his death-bed, accepted Jesus as his Savior just a few days before he died. Ray was 68.

The daughter of a friend gave birth to a little girl who was born with her intestines on the outside of her abdomen. This birth defect, known as gastroschisis, occurs in about 1 in every 5,000 births in the U.S. each year. The child, afflicted with additional abnormalities, eventually died just before her first birthday.

People ask, “Why would God allow this innocent child to die?” or, “Why would God allow such a good Christian man as Jim Allen or Ray Owens to die before their time?” Those are valid questions. I know personally that many people from all across America prayed for all three of these special people, asking God to heal them. I had clients in Arkansas, Texas, California, and many other states, along with flight attendants, saying they would pray for these individuals.

Many times, people will blame God because a loved one died, or for some other tragedy that occurred in their lives.

Don’t Blame God!

The truth is, it is not God’s fault when someone dies of disease any more than it is His fault when someone gets killed in an accident, war, homicide, etc. If we want to find someone to blame, we need look no further than ourselves-mankind is to blame. How can that be, you ask? For the answer we must go back in time-all the way to the beginning.

God put Adam and Eve in a perfect place. It was never hot. It was never cold. There were no biting mosquitoes, spiders, or wild animals to worry about. Oh, they were there, but they did not feed on Adam or Eve. The taste of blood was unknown to every living creature. If Adam and Eve had not disobeyed God, they would have lived forever in this perfect place.

When God told Adam, the first human, that he would die if he ate fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, located in the center of the Garden, He was not speaking just of Adam, even though Adam was the only one around at the time. He was referring to all of mankind. And while the tree of knowledge of good and evil was a real tree, it was also a metaphor. What God was really saying to Adam was, “Obey me or die!” This was a test. God gave us, just as He did Adam and Eve, the freewill to obey or disobey; to accept or reject Him; to love or not love Him. Our lives, both our earthly lives and, more importantly, our eternal lives in the hereafter, are determined by the decisions we make. If we choose to ignore God then this life is the best we will ever know. If, on the other hand, we choose to accept God, we have eternal life with Him in heaven to look forward to.

If we choose to reject God, then we will be spiritually dead and forever separated from Him.

Bad Choice-Bad Results

When Adam and Eve made the decision to disobey God, they unknowingly made the decision on behalf of all people who would follow them. That includes you and me. When Adam and Eve disobeyed God, their decision allowed sin to enter their world and set into motion a chain of events that would ripple to the end of time and evolve into death for all of mankind. Without sin, the perfect harmony that once existed among all living things while in the Garden, would have continued to exist.

Without the freedom to choose for ourselves, there can be no love. If I have to pay or force my wife to tell me she loves me, for example, that isn’t love. That isn’t even obedience. It is her doing something she may like or dislike for the sole purpose of fulfilling her desire to gain a reward. God wanted His children to love Him. But like you and me, He did not want them to love Him out of fear, or duty, or obligation; and, without this free will to choose, we would simply be like androids, doing what our programmer programmed us to do. That isn’t love.

After Adam and Eve were evicted from the Garden of Eden, life became much harder. As God had promised, they had to work hard to survive. Gone were the fruit-laden trees and the perfect soil for growing. Gone was the peaceful co-existence with animals. Enter a world of scratching a living from an unproductive ground. Enter physical death and decaying bodies. Enter scavengers. And with scavenging from decaying bodies, enter bacteria and, eventually, sickness and disease. As time passed, disease became even more prevalent. Bacteria mutated and new diseases were born resulting in death, disability, and birth defects such as gastroschisis.

With the recognition of good and evil and the freedom to choose, came envy, jealousy, anger, greed, and eventually, a la Cain and Able, murder. Given the freedom to choose, along with a finite understanding of everything around us, we often choose wrongly. Some of man’s choices, throughout history, have resulted in war, genocide, dumping chemicals, which have polluted our environment (leading to more disease). The bad things that happen to us and our loved ones are the result of decisions made by someone. Whether a decision to drive while intoxicated, get a divorce, lay off employees, live beyond our means-the list is infinite. But everything on the list can be traced back to the same event-a single bite of fruit. Thank you Adam and Eve!

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One response

18 05 2010
Jo Ann Adcock

Thank you, Bill. I feel like I have just been taught a wonderful Sunday School lesson.

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