"Why do bad things happen to good people? If God is good, why does He allow so much bad to happen?"
This question was asked of me by my 14 year old daughter recently. You want to talk about a challenging conversation, my girl is a deep thinker like I am... and often times has a way of asking a question I really have no idea how to answer. She's done this often lately.
But the question of why do bad things happen to good people is one which I have often crossed. Since I hold on to a faith in Jesus, the question has come up more than once in my life.
I am no theologian or a woman who has a super deep understanding of the scripture. I am a girl curious and interested in my growth, and so whenever that question has been asked of me, I have always struggled to answer it accurately, but desire to have a better understanding every time.
To be quite honest, I have been wrestling with writing this blog. It's sort of been running around in my mind the last few weeks. I really don't know that I am very qualified to be sharing it out loud for others to take in and read. However, I know writing helps me process what I am learning. And this is a question that has come up too much lately for me to avoid.
My daughter has a beautiful sensitivity to what others around her are facing. She has a gift of empathy. She feels what her friends face. That is what began this conversation. She has a best friend who's parents have separated after 22 years of marriage. She has a best friend here who has been in the foster system and was in a really good home, but due to a messy scenario created by a person out to get the foster family, her friend was removed from them and has been bounced home to home the last couple of weeks. She's seen some family members lose their job recently. And therefore, she has been questioning the ever-popular thought about "if God is good, why do bad things happen..."
So, I have began to study this a little more. I think one of the best answers a parent can give at times is "I don't know... but I will help you find that answer." And then proceed to investigate it more and circle back. So Elizabeth and I have been talking this one out. I'm not really sure I can answer it in any kind of elegant way. But what I do know is that God is good. All the time. Even in the midst of pain. He didn't create evil, but yes, He allows it to happen.
Sometimes evil is created by others' doing, because God offers free will to us, and not everyone chooses the right option. Those choices then hurt others around them, creating bad things to happen to good people.
For example, Elizabeth's friend in the foster system. She didn't choose to be a foster child. But her birth mother has made poor choices, leading her daughter (Elizabeth's friend) to feel the consequences of those decisions. A (I will not use her full name) has been moved home to home - she did nothing to deserve that, but it has happened because her mom chose bad over good. Why is that fair? It really is not. So, why would God allow that to happen? Sometimes we don't learn the answers to these questions. But other times we can see answers later down the road. What is happening to A is affecting all these other people in her life, too. My daughter being one. But this bad opens up a door for good. A got placed in a home with a very loving family who loves God and can give her stability. As A receives that, she can grow up and help others who face the same situation. She can help her sisters, who are also part of the foster system. As mentioned above, the situation has another twist. The loving family with whom she lived was falsely accused (already has been cleared now...) but in the process A was removed from there. She is once again facing bad because of someone's ill doing. In the process, though, this loving family who has gone through an awful time of investigation, has been very open and has had an opportunity to shine their faith to everyone around them. God has taken this painful scenario and is using it to spread His good word... and how He takes bad things and uses them even when we don't understand them.
Another example would be cancer. My mom was the most amazing woman I have ever known. She lived her faith out like no one I have ever seen do. I didn't always recognize that or appreciate it, but I learned to the older I got. My mom had rarely ever been sick. And all she ever did in her life was help others. So, why did she have to get cancer? Now, that is a difficult question to ask. She didn't do anything "bad" for that to happen. But it did. For me, I was never mad at God that she got cancer. But I did not understand it. I know that she is better off in heaven now, but why did that have to happen? It created a hole in my life no one else can ever fill. In this case, that is not the result of someone committing evil and the trickle effects taking place. In the case of this, I think yes, this bad thing happened to a very good woman. But she was never angry or bitter or even scared. She walked through it with the greatest spirt and testimony of faith and that will be a living legacy to me, to my children. God used that bad to teach me and my kids that no matter what we go through, we can choose our attitudes. We can choose to hold on to our faith and cling to God. We can choose to become angry and run away or we can choose to cry, grieve, laugh, embrace and grow in our faith through the difficult time. The other aspect to this is that now that I have walked through her death, the amount of times I have been able to walk through grief with a friend in their own has been a blessing. Not a blessing that they face what I once walked through. But a blessing in the sense that I could truly relate to them; I could help them see it would be OK. I could hold their hand, let them cry, write them notes, and allow them to talk to me in a way they wouldn't with others, simply because I had walked through that same sorrow. God has used my mom's death countless times for me to recall stories of her faith to help me stay strong in mine. He has used my mom's death more times than I wish were true for me to help a friend through their own loss.