If there is a God who is all powerful and all-loving, why would He allow:
- An unfair accusation to ruin my reputation?
- A drunk driver to snuff out the life of my child?
- Sickness to destroy my body?
- Infidelity to end my marriage?
If living righteously does not exempt me from the same pain and suffering that the ungodly experience then what is the point of trying to obey God?
When someone experiences a horrendous tragedy, we want to think that the person must have done something to have caused that. We don’t want to believe that bad things happen to good people, so we try to find a logical answer to other people‘s suffering, reassuring ourselves that nothing like that could ever happen to us.
In our minds we separate people into good people and bad people. But the Bible makes no distinction (Romans 3:23). There are only bad people who have been forgiven (the righteous) and bad people who have not been forgiven (the unrighteous).
We don’t want to believe that things occur randomly. We want an explanation. And so to comfort ourselves, we try to come up with an answer. Maybe these people were more sinful. Jesus says “no.” But He does issue a command, from which we can gather three timeless truths (Luke 13:5).
1. We should focus on the eternal, not the temporal.
When you are trying to comfort those who are suffering, don’t try to explain why. Job’s friends made the mistake of looking for an explanation. Interesting that when God finally spoke He didn’t explain either. He essentially said, “Trust Me.”
God usually doesn’t explain the reason for our suffering—He knows we couldn’t understand or that even if we could it might not be much of a comfort.
Jesus said “in the world you shall have tribulation.” Suffering is the price we pay for living in a fallen world. “Don’t be surprised by the fiery ordeal as though some strange thing were happening to you (1 Peter 4:12).” As tragic as some of life’s circumstances are, Jesus warned the people to quit being so concerned about temporary tragedies and start being concerned with the greatest tragedy of all – dying separated from God.
2. Repentance is the only way to escape God’s judgment.
Repentance is an action. Literally, the word means to have a “change of mind that leads to a change in direction.”
To repent means to change your mind about your sin, to see sin as seriously as God sees it—something that absolutely disqualifies you from Heaven and is deserving of Hell. But repentance means not only turning away from sin but turning in faith toward Jesus Christ, looking to him not only to forgive you of your sin but also to lead you in a whole new direction in life.
3. God’s patience can be exhausted.
The Bible teaches that God is longsuffering and merciful and patient not willing that any should perish but all should come to faith in Christ.
We see God’s patience demonstrated throughout the Bible, but just as there came a point when He said enough to the ancient world to whom Noah preached, to the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, and to the nation of Israel, there comes a time when God says enough to us.
If you are not a Christian, there is a window of opportunity for every person to trust Christ. But there comes a time when you say no to God once too often, and you are no longer able to respond. If you are a Christian living disobediently, there comes a time when God says enough to you, too. And He will send His discipline into your life to turn you back to Him (Hebrews 12:6).
Although God truly cares about the difficulty you are experiencing, He promises that all suffering is temporary. What is much more important is that you be delivered from the ultimate suffering – separation from God – and that you experience the ultimate deliverance from suffering that will come in Heaven.
Adapted from “When Bad Things Happen to Bad People” by Dr. Robert Jeffress.