Can tragedy come to good people?

Some people say: Bad things just don’t happen to good people!  But is that true?

Luke 13:1-5: “About this time Jesus was informed that Pilate had murdered some people from Galilee as they were offering sacrifices at the Temple. “Do you think those Galileans were worse sinners than all the other people from Galilee?” Jesus asked. “Is that why they suffered? Not at all! And you will perish, too, unless you repent of your sins and turn to God. And what about the eighteen people who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them? Were they the worst sinners in Jerusalem? No, and I tell you again that unless you repent, you will perish, too.” NLT

The question in the minds of Jesus’ audience was, “Why did those people suffer and die from Pilate’s cruelty or from the tower falling?”  The assumption was they must have been bad people to suffer like that. There is a tendency for us to look at someone when they are suffering and to think, “Maybe they are just getting what they deserve.”

“Can tragedy come to good people?”  Yes, it can.  Can it come to those trying with all their hearts to serve the Lord?  Yes, it can and yes it does.

But why? Why are there disasters such as tornados, earthquakes, or accidents in which people are hurt or die? Why is there cancer, infection, and disease? Why would God let a Christian get sick and even die?  It’s because we live in a fallen, messed up world.

When Adam and Eve sinned, they opened up a world of troubles for themselves and for their descendants. Have you ever heard the world’s shortest poem?

It’s called “Troubles” and here’s the poem: “Troubles – Adam had’em!” He had plenty of troubles – and so do we.

Trouble is inevitable:  Job 14:1 – “How frail is humanity! How short is life, how full of trouble!” NLT

Paul said in Acts 14:22 – “…we must suffer many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God.”   NLT

Sometimes that includes good/innocent Christians suffering from tragedies! These troubles can include tragic death (Job’s children).

Christians suffer like anybody else, they get sick, they get hurt, they can be persecuted, and they eventually die, just like anyone else.  Some children are being raised by an evil parent(s).

Some people are married to an evil person, some people suffer at the hands of evil people, and it happens every day.  Sometimes these bad things happen to good Christian people.

Christian women and young girls have been abused to include sexual abuse by evil men for 2000 years.  Children of Christian parents have been abused by close family members or others.  Christians have been persecuted and killed for 2000 years.

Terrible things have happened to the bodies of good Christian people, but God has promised that regardless of what happens to our bodies, our souls will live forever:

Psalm 34:17-19:The Lord hears his people when they call to him for help. He rescues them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed. The righteous person faces many troubles, but the Lord comes to the rescue each time.” NLT

Matthew 10:28 – “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” NKJV

Philippians 1:29 – “For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake…” NKJV

1 Peter 5:10 – “But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.” NKJV

1.  Tribulation and distress

The Bible teaches us that trials and persecution are natural, expected parts of living for God, and though they can be very difficult to deal with, God uses these problems, trials, and tribulations to build character: James 1:2-3: “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.” NLT

Romans 5:3-4: “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.” NLT

Romans 8:35-37: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” NKJV

The first two words on this list: “Tribulation” and “Distress” are general words for trouble, but each has a slightly different emphasis.

“Tribulation” is from the Greek word that primarily means: a pressing, pressure, to compress or press! It was the word used for extracting the juice from grapes by trampling on them, or grinding wheat or barley into fine meal. Have you experienced the pressure of trouble?  Have you been battered by life?  Then you understand what this word means.

“Distress” is translated from a compound Greek word that refers to a narrow or restricted place.  Have you ever felt as if you were being squeezed in a vise, as if you had no room to breathe?  Then you understand what this word means.

When you combine the two, they refer respectively to outward affliction and inward distress.  The two terms encompass every kind of problem and trouble that might be imagined.

“Persecution” refers to being pursued like a hunter pursues an animal.  The church was born in occupied territory and under ruthless dictators who hunted and persecuted Christians.

2 Corinthians 12:10 – “That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” NLT

2 Timothy 3:12 – “…everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” NLT 

“Famine” (lack of food) and “nakedness” (lack of clothing) could refer to the financial consequences of following Christ.

“Peril” is a general word for danger, while “sword” has a number of sinister meanings, including violent death and execution for being a Christian. However, even if we die, God does not lose us in the dust of death.  For the faithful child of God, death is not a wall, but a door into the presence of God:

Psalm 116:15 – “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.” NKJV

Paul was speaking from personal experience when he wrote Romans 8:35-37.

2 Corinthians 6:3-5: “We live in such a way that no one will stumble because of us, and no one will find fault with our ministry.  In everything we do, we show that we are true ministers of God. We patiently endure troubles and hardships and calamities of every kind. We have been beaten, been put in prison, faced angry mobs, worked to exhaustion, endured sleepless nights, and gone without food.”  NLT

 2 Corinthians 11:22-27: “Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they descendants of Abraham? So am I. Are they servants of Christ? I know I sound like a madman, but I have served him far more! I have worked harder, been put in prison more often, been whipped times without number, and faced death again and again. Five different times the Jewish leaders gave me thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea. I have traveled on many long journeys. I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not. I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm.”  NLT

Hebrews 11:32-38: “How much more do I need to say? It would take too long to recount the stories of the faith of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and all the prophets. By faith these people overthrew kingdoms, ruled with justice, and received what God had promised them. They shut the mouths of lions, quenched the flames of fire, and escaped death by the edge of the sword. Their weakness was turned to strength. They became strong in battle and put whole armies to flight. Women received their loved ones back again from death. But others were tortured, refusing to turn from God in order to be set free. They placed their hope in a better life after the resurrection. Some were jeered at, and their backs were cut open with whips. Others were chained in prisons. Some died by stoning, some were sawed in half, and others were killed with the sword. Some went about wearing skins of sheep and goats, destitute and oppressed and mistreated. They were too good for this world, wandering over deserts and mountains, hiding in caves and holes in the ground.”  NLT

We think bad people should be the ones to suffer and good people shouldn’t. But that’s not the way it works. Many of God’s children in the Bible suffered – greatly!  That includes the Apostle Paul, and that includes Jesus Himself!

Some of you may be suffering right now. If you are, I want you to understand that you aren’t suffering because you are a worse sinner than the rest of us. And some of you are doing great right now, no complaints. That doesn’t mean you are better than the person sitting next to you who is hurting.

Pain and suffering and tragedy comes to us all – when it does, don’t ask “Why me?” The better question to ask is “Why not me?”

Maybe you’ve asked this question yourself, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” Have you ever stopped to wonder, “Why do good things happen to bad people – like me?”

Whatever it is that you are facing, just remember that it’s temporary, it will come to an end!

1 Peter 1:6-7: “So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.” NLT

2.  The Most important question

It has been said that the real pain of suffering is not the actual hurt and pain that we go through – martyrs have proven that physical suffering can be endured.   The real pain is that it seems that God is not listening and seeing what is going on.  So often when tragedies strike or hard times come, we ask, Where is God when we hurt and it won’t stop hurting?

God does not always prevent evil things from happening to us.  Jesus said in Matthew 10:29 – “Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will.”  NKJV

Though God provides for the sparrows, sometimes bad things happen to them to include being hunted and killed.  Although God watches over every one of us, and protects our souls from evil, this does not mean that our physical lives will be free from pain and suffering and tragedy!

As Christians, we are “more than conquerors” over the trials and tribulations and tragedies that come our way!  We do not just survive our problems – we triumph over them.  We do not merely cope with the challenges of life, but with God’s help we use those challenges to become better people.  Above all, we are more than conquerors because God’s grace enables us to win the battle against great odds.  In the end we will be ushered into His presence and receive a reward far greater than anything we can ever imagine.

The Bible assures Christians that trials and persecution are natural, expected parts of living for God.  But no matter what happens, nothing can take you away from God’s love!

Romans 8:38-39: “And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” NLT

2 Corinthians 4:16-18: “That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.” NLT

One day, everything will be fixed and redeemed: Revelation 21:4 – “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” NKJV

But for the time being, we have to live in an imperfect world where there are storms, accidents, disease, and evil people.

“Why do good people suffer?” None are good in the first place! Romans 3:10 – “There is none righteous, no not one…” NKJV

“Can bad things happen to good people?”  That only happened once, and He volunteered for it!

Romans 5:8 – “But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” NLT

The most important question you’ll ever ask is not “Why do good people suffer?” The most important question is “Am I ready to meet God?” Or “Where will I spend eternity?”


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