Friday, July 30, 2010

Why Do Bad Things Happen?

I participated in a lively group discussion last night. A group of friends have been gathering for a few weeks now. We eat together, worship a bit and talk about... stuff. So last night I threw out the following question: “Why do bad things happen?”

Now all those assembled have been around church circles most of their lives. Through the years we’d all been exposed to various theologies and philosophies attempting to explain this age old question. Here are a few of the answers we came up with:

  • We are reaping what we’ve sown
  • We’re out of God’s will
  • There's a lesson we need to learn
  • It’s warfare, a spiritual attack
  • It’s the effect of our sin
  • It’s the effect of someone else’s sin
  • It’s demonic payback or backlash for our good deeds
  • The injustice experienced creates an opportunity for Divine justice
  • A combination of the above explanations

My guess is that you could add a few additional items to this list.

So, here’s my point, when bad things happen – do we really know why? Do we know with a definitive certainty why it happened? I think not. If we’re uncertain why bad things happen to us, then we’re even less certain why they happen to others. That uncertainty is a very good reason for grace. Grace toward others and ourselves; grace and dramatically less judgment. Bad things happen and we don’t always know why. When bad things do happen may our default position be one of grace.

What say you?



  1. Great point - less judgment and more grace. Nicely said.

  2. Great post. I do SOMEtimes think, when the bad things happen to us, we do know why. Ususally do to some sin or neglect. But, we certainly do not know anothers life or heart and should always extend grace to others.

  3. I've never understand why we're always looking for the reason for why bad things hapeen to be blamed on ourselve, God, the ememy or others. We live in a fallen world, bad "stuff" happens, it's not necessarily God trying to teach us a leason although HE can. The emeny get a lot of credit for "stuff", seems like we think he is ominpresent and really more interested in us individually than is p
    robably true. My feeling is in a lot of cases bad stuff just happens even to good.people. It rains on the just and the unjust. is true also.

  4. I like it when the Pharisees tried to trip up Jesus over this. They recounted the news of 3 men being killed while trying to build the temple. Talk about being in the act of doing something good - what could be a better than building the temple - yet they were struck down in the prime of life.
    Just like you indicated here, Tom - the "why did this happen" question gave way to a "where is your heart" question. Jesus turned it into an example that told that we cannot control catastrophes but we can control the condition of our hearts. His blunt answer to them of "See to it that you are ready . . ." revealed that He is not going to make us all spiritual bubble-boys, rather, he is going to give us grace enough to face whatever future comes our way.

  5. Anonymous3:32 PM

    I stopped asking why bad things happen. Now I just try to see past it to an area for character building. I usually find one.