Bad Things Happen to Good People
Bible Reading: James 1:2-8
When your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. James 1:3
When a tornado tore through Justin’s small Midwestern town, it tore dozens of houses off their foundations. Justin couldn’t see how God could let his home be destroyed—or how God could allow earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, and disease to hurt thousands of people.
Talk about it: When bad things have happened in your life, have you ever wondered if God messed up?
The Bible says that God isn’t to blame for the bad things that happen in life. Bad things happen because of human sin and people’s wrong choices:
• Sometimes evil comes from our own bad choices. If we go to the ocean and swim in riptides, it’s not God’s fault if we’re swooshed out to sea.
• Sometimes evil comes from choosing to do nothing. If we let a bully keep threatening a little kid without telling anyone, for example, the little kid might get seriously hurt.
• Sometimes evil comes from the choices of others. If someone drives a car while drunk, a family in another car might be hurt or killed.
But how about natural disasters like storms, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and tidal waves? Natural disasters also result from human sin, though that might not be as easy to see. Way back at the beginning of the world, the sin of Adam and Eve disobeying God brought a change to earth (see Genesis 3:17-18). Their sin caused chaos and pain to enter our world (see Romans 8:19-22). And that means that diseases and natural disasters can happen to anyone, even someone who loves God.
That’s a big thought. And it doesn’t change the fact that we wish our all-powerful God would come down and keep evil from happening.
God does sometimes stop bad stuff. But if God put a halt to everything evil in our world, it would take away our freedom to choose. We wouldn’t experience the consequences of bad choices. And we wouldn’t learn from our troubles.
None of the bad things that happen in life mean God loves us any less. God hasn’t promised to shield us from everything evil. But he did say he would be with us through anything and everything (see Matthew 28:20).
TALK: How can God’s love comfort us when bad things happen to us?
PRAY: God, we don’t blame you for the times when things go wrong in our life. We know you are with us, and we ask you to help us learn from our troubles.
ACT: Explain freedom of choice to a friend and talk about why God isn’t to blame when bad things happen.