“Why do bad things happen to good people?”
“If God is good, then why is there so much suffering in the world?”
Two very important questions that are often asked by those considering Christianity, these are some of life’s hardest questions. Why would I want to tackle them? Because many in our world are asking, and there is only one place to find the answer–the Bible.
Whether it is a family member that is suffering through a chronic disease or a senseless tragedy involving innocents, we are faced with a truth that the world struggles to digest:
Sin has consequences.
Stay with me. I’m not saying that every person’s suffering is a result of their own sin, but rather, that God created this world and everything in it and it was good…
“God saw all that He had made, and it was very good. ” Genesis 1:31
…until sin entered.
Given a choice, the temptation that satan offered Adam and Eve was more than just the freedom to choose. God had given them that. More than the choice between good and evil, and more than a solitary sinful action, Satan knew that sin was the key that would unlock the door of separation from a holy God.
“Did God really say…” Genesis 3:1
His tactic was, and always is, to lure us away from our Creator. While using clever ways to distract us, he draws us as far away from what is good and true and right. Which door we choose is only one of two: the choice to obey God or to turn away from Him in disobedience.
So those hard questions? Two of life’s hardest “Why?” questions to answer? Why it seems so unfair when we see bad things happen to an innocent party, or when those who are trying to live a life that honors the Lord– and yet He still allows them to suffer?
Because this isn’t heaven.
Sin entered this world and its consequences affect everything in the natural world. We will not see perfection until we reach heaven. And those “why?” questions… some of those won’t be answered until eternity.
That’s where faith comes in.
This is not a blind faith.
An informed faith is one that trusts the God of the Bible, and sees beyond our current circumstance to His character.
It’s one thing to trust God when life is proceeding smoothly. It’s another step in our spiritual growth when we are able to see God and trust Him during our trials. (The Book of Job is a great example of that!)
In 2 Thessalonians, Paul, along with Silas and Timothy wrote a letter of encouragement to the Christians in Thessalonica. This is a church under persecution, and these believers are suffering because they placed their faith in Jesus as Savior, and believed that He truly was the Son of God.
This tangible evidence, and many other passages in the Bible, go against the false “prosperity” gospel, reminding us that following Jesus isn’t always the easiest road. God does promise us His presence, His power and His protection; and while it does not mean that we are immune to the heat of the fire, it does mean–just like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego [Daniel 3]–-that we won’t be alone.
As we learn dependence on Him, He will give us confidence and bring peace in the midst of life’s fiery trials.
These new Christians in Thessalonica were struggling through persecution and were looking forward to Jesus’ return. Anticipating that it would be soon, Paul had to warn them that there were other things that would occur before Jesus would come back to earth to rescue them.
It is mind-blowing when we read the New Testament and try to wrap our minds around what the end times will look like. Some face it with fear and anxiety, while others see it much like those early apostles did–Jesus returning to conquer the evil in this world and take us to a newer, more perfect world.
“The Lord Jesus will destroy him with the breath of His mouth and will bring him to nothing with the brightness of His coming.” 2 Thessalonians 2:8
One look at the day’s headlines and you can easily fill your heart and mind with an overwhelming ache for something better. Paul’s advice to the believers in Thessalonica is a sound word of encouragement for us today:
“Therefore, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions you were taught, either by our message or by our letter.” 2 Thessalonians 2:15
Standing firm when the storms of life are howling is no easy task. Facing an uncertain future, our confidence is not to be based in our own abilities or even the provisions we have stored up. God is the one who provides when we stand on His promises, His Word, His truth.
“May our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us eternal encouragement and good hope by grace, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good work and word.” 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17
In my journey through the Bible, 2 Thessalonians has been a book that has encouraged me. Seeing so much of the struggle between good and evil, I am reminded that this battle is not a new one, and it will culminate one day when Jesus returns to conquer our true enemy.
My hope is not in politics, or even religion, but in The One who has written my story. Life’s hardest questions come to all of us. God can and will see you through. He was there at the beginning and will be faithful to the final chapter.
For my Scripture Memory Challenge I am choosing 2 Thessalonians 3:3 because it is the verse that sums up this letter in a final statement to answer those hard questions. “But God.” He is faithful. Even when life is hard. Even when we don’t know all of the answers on this side of heaven.
” But the Lord is faithful; He will strengthen and guard you from the evil one.” 2 Thessalonians 3:3
If you’d like to read more of my journey through the Bible, it all started with a Scripture Memory Challenge, where I am blogging through every book of the Bible and memorizing a verse from each book. You can start here: