Why Do Bad Things Happen To Good People?

Text: 1 Peter 5:6-11

In the name of Jesus. Amen.


It has been said before that there is no such thing as a stupid question. Unfortunately, this is not true. In life, there are a lot of stupid questions that we ask, which then lead to stupid answers. Perhaps the only thing worse than a stupid question is a question asked with pride.  


For example, we often hear the question, 


”Why do bad things happen to good people?”  


On the surface, this question surely seems to come across with sincerity. However, if we examine this question, we will soon realize that this question is not so much a question but more so a prideful protest.  


Dear friends, it is important to understand that the pride of the human heart is inclined to resent misfortunes in life. The prideful heart tends to murmur and grumble when bad things happen. Whether it is problems with health, loss of loved ones, financial hardships, natural disasters, accidents, relationship issues, legal problems, personal tragedy, or personal disappointments, we humans struggle to reconcile how we, as so-called good people, can endure such undeserved hardships, while those who engage in harmful actions seemingly go unpunished. That is to say, our pride gets offended when bad things happen to us because we believe that we do not deserve to be treated in such a way.  Listen to the cry of our hearts during struggles, 


           “What did I do to deserve this?”


There is also something else embedded in our questions of, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” and “What did I do to deserve this?”  Yes, there is something else also at the root of these questions, and that is - fearWhen bad things happen to us and our friends, it becomes very clear that we lack control. For example, have you noticed how quickly the news cycle tries to come up with a motive or reason for bad things? Hurricanes and forest fires happen because of climate change; school shootings happen because of guns; economic inequality is due to racism; excessive healthcare costs are due to big pharma; social unrest is due to hate; and so forth. Now, whether all of these are true or not is not the point. The point is that when bad things happen, our news cycle quickly tries to find a motive, reason, or scapegoat to attribute the bad circumstance to. The reason is if we can ascribe blame for something bad, we can then feel in control. And when we feel in control, well… we don’t have to be given to fear. Mark this, there is perhaps no greater fear in this world than to face a very bad situation and then realize that one is completely and utterly out of control – that one is not able to fix the problem. This not only offends our prideful hearts but causes great fear. 


But why mention all of this?  


Dear friends, this is exactly what the Apostle Peter is confronting in our reading from the Epistle of 1 Peter. In our Epistle Reading, Peter is telling you and me that we are to be content under God’s strong hand. Peter is telling you and me that we can live carefree before God because he is most careful with you and me. In other words, when you and I let our prideful old Adam have its way – like the world – we will always be offended, always ungrateful, and always grumbling with the misfortunes of life. The reason is when our prideful sinful nature has its way, we function not only as if there is no God, but we view ourselves as morally superior – deserving of all good things.


Furthermore, when we live like the world with our inflated pride, we are easily given to fear when bad things do come our way. After all, if we act like God, it is easy to become fearful when we are threatened on our prideful thrones. Bluntly stated, when we sit on top of our little kingdoms, we like to believe that we have all things under our control. However, when the smallest of struggles come our way, not only does our prideful arrogance get offended, but we become quickly fearful. We don’t want to fall from our prideful thrones to the bottom. We don’t want to have cracked crowns. We don’t want to be out of control and vulnerable. 


Baptized Saints, Peter reminds you and me today that we are to be humble under God’s mighty power. This humility that Peter speaks of is not being mousy or soft-spoken. This humility is not being overtly pious or religious. But instead, the humility that Peter speaks of is to understand that you are not God. Furthermore, it is to understand that you are under God’s mighty hand of power. The humility that Peter speaks of is to know your place under the Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier.  


You see, this is why we Christians are different from the world. Where the world does not see itself under God, we Christians do. Baptized Saints, do not forget that your Lord Jesus Christ snatched you from darkness unto Light. He did this to make you His own. And so, you do not belong to sin, death, and the devil, but you belong to your Master, Jesus Christ. And so, to live with inflated pride, as if there is no God, is not who you are. You are not a righteous king or queen sitting on top of your mighty throne, trying to rule your tiny little kingdom, defending your tiny little empire from the big threats of the world by your own strength. If you were, it would make sense to cry out in prideful protest, “Why do bad things happen to me as a good kind or queen!”  It would make sense to cry out in arrogant complaining, “What did I do to deserve this?”  Ah, but you are neither good nor powerful, which is why you need to be under the almighty Christ.  


Baptized Saints, today you are under the almighty God, which makes things drastically different for you. More specifically, because you are under King Jesus, two realities emerge for you in spite of the old Adam’s pride and fear.  


First, because you are under the mighty hand of God, whether things are good or bad in your life, it does not change the fact that your Jesus is in control and is good to you. His grace is sufficient for every time of need; His power is strongest when you and I are weak. Think about the Apostle Paul for a moment with respect to this. In the verse where Paul says, “I can do all things through Christ, who gives me strength,” Paul does not suggest that through Jesus, he has unlimited power to conquer the world. This verse is not a Christian sports slogan. Instead, Paul is stating that he is content to do all things in the face of poverty or abundance. And like Paul, you as a Christian can face all things – whether good or bad – because you are under the mighty hand of God. And so, whether you experience misfortune or calamity, nothing changes for you as a Christian, for you are still tucked into Christ's powerful and tender nailed-marked hands. Christ is your strength, assurance, and sustenance in good and bad times.  


Secondly, because you and I belong under the mighty hand of God, not only does this allow us to bear the misfortunes and calamities in life, but it also leads us to faith – not fear. You see, all of our foolish worries, all of our nightly unrest, all of our racing thoughts, belong to our prideful old Adam trying to manage fear and stay in control on the throne. But instead, because you and I are Christians – because Christ has snatched us unto Himself and because we are under the almighty hand of God, we have the gracious invitation to cast every care upon Him. If there was not a God or if we had a God that did not care for you and me, we would be stuck with hauling around our worries, burdens, and need for control throughout all the days of our life. However, because we are humbled under the Lord and because we have a caring God, all the cares and worries of this present life, everything that bothers us, Christians, in its entirety, can be cast upon our heavenly Father.  


Please keep in mind that Peter is not saying that we Christians are to live a flippant life, not being dutiful servants of our resources and life. No, that is not what is being stated. Instead, Peter is essentially setting forth a carefree life – a life of faith that lives in humility and gratitude while knowing the Lord is most careful with His children.  


And so, in humility and gratitude, we Christians do not say, “Why do bad things happen to good people,” but instead, we say, “Why do good things happen to bad people?”  Furthermore, we say, “What did I ever do to deserve God's love, favor, and redemption,” while knowing that suffering won’t last forever. Yes, by faith, we know that it won’t be long before this generous God will make everything right for you and me. Our Lord gets the last word; He has good eternal plans for you and me while we journey through this vale of tears. 


In the name of Jesus. Amen. 

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