Monday, May 18, 2015

Why do bad things happen to good people?

A few weeks ago I stepped off the curb at a convenience store in Collins, MS only to see a previously parked white Escalade roaring down on me. In reverse. There was no time to run, and there was no way I could escape being hit and hurt badly. The next thing I knew, I was laying flat on my back on the tarmac, feeling around for injuries. and drawing a crowd people wanting to help. I was alive, and miraculously the only severe pain was at the seat of my pants.

I remember thinking, “God must not be through with me yet.” When the driver saw what she had caused she began to panic. By this time I sat up and thanked God for my safety.

One week later while in Oklahoma, my wife Rita was bitten by a Brown Recluse spider and spent over a week in the hospital and is looking forward to months of pain and a possible skin graft, as the wound heals.

While these events are important to us personally, what about the earthquakes in Nepal, the tornadoes in the Midwest, the train wreck in Philadelphia or wars in the Middle East?

When difficulties arise we ask, “Why me? Is God punishing me?” “If God is almighty, why did he not stop these disasters? This leads some to the conclusion that Atheists and Deists are right. Others may not want follow a God Who would allow these things to happen.

Theologians over the years have attempted to develop sound meaningful explanations that seldom satisfies. With a loving and caring God, why is there still evil in the world?

Jesus told us:

John 16:33 (MSG) 33  In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I've conquered the world."

Other Biblical writers contributed:
James 1:2-4 (MSG) Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.

Hebrews 12:7-9 (MSG) God is educating you; that's why you must never drop out. He's treating you as dear children. This trouble you're in isn't punishment; it's training, the normal experience of children.

One of the best explanations I have heard is an analogy with WWII in Europe. In the Old Testament there are very few examples of bad things happening to good people. Most notably is the story of Job who was a righteous man and God allowed Satan to test his loyalty. For most of the Old Testament we see the Jewish nation suffering because of their disobedience to God. Their physical state is often a barometer of their spiritual state. Their disobedience then leads to  enemy attacks, oppression, and capture.

In the Christian New Testament, the story has changed. Now bad things are regularly happening to good people, while the incidents of punishment by God for disobedience is rare. What caused the change?

This is how the WWII analogy helps to explain. Until June 6th 1944, the Axis forces in Europe pretty
much had things there own way. On D-Day, the Allied forces invaded the enemy's territory beginning one of the most deadly times in history. Patton’s Seventh Army made great progress, but the enemy took advantage of other allied weakness and attacked and began the famous “Battle of the Bulge.”

When Jesus came into a world completely controlled by Satan and his forces, it was the spiritual D-Day. Up until then, Satan had his own way, but with Jesus cosmic invasion, the war began in earnest.

In the European Theater more lives were lost between D-Day and VE-Day than at any prior time in the war. In our spiritual war, there have been and will continue to be many casualties between Jesus’ invasion of Satan’s realm and when Jesus returns in victory.

This analogy has helped me over the years, but I would like to get your comments on this important subject.

Bill Johnson


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