If you noticed, this is not the normal way we phrase this question. The question asked more often, at least in my world, is, "Why do bad things happen to good people?" If I'm being honest, asking this question somehow feels righteous. "God, why would you allow this? These are 'good' people." We feel vindicated. We can ask on behalf of someone else, and feel as though we care for them.
First, let me state that I have no problem with 'why' questions. I think these are healthy for us even. God is big enough to handle them, and smart enough to respond correctly. Too often we think God cannot deal with us or our struggles. I am thankful that I serve a different God than that. One whose ways are much bigger and whose thoughts are much higher. I serve a God that is not insecure or worried or taken back by anything I can bring to the table. But more on that next week!
Second, as it pertains to this commonly asked question, I tend to see a lot of 'feeling' and 'perception' in it. I feel like this shouldn't be this way. Or, I want to be perceived as caring. I think if we were completely honest with ourselves, we ask the question in title just as often. It sure doesn't roll off our tongue as well. It may be perceived that we are somehow not godly enough. Humble enough.
Why do good things happen to bad people?
Have you been there?
Why did our co-worker get the raise I deserved? They didn't even work as hard.
Why did my friend get the award I was wanting?
Why were they blessed with such talent? And they are a sinner at that?!
Since we are on the topic of sins, why did my sins find me out and theirs didn't?
You've been there. I've been there. This internal struggle that we don't want to communicate out loud for fear of looking like less or feeling like less.
Jeremiah shares our sympathies as he begins chapter 12 of his book, "Why does the way of the wicked prosper?"
I would love to throw out our typical statements that we tell people in church, but those don't always sit well with me. I'm not saying they are a cop out for ministers, or that they don't care. I do struggle however, because I am human. I struggle because I want to be settled with this answer down in my soul. I don't want a surface bandaid to try to cover a fix. Often times when we find ourselves in these situations, there is something much deeper inside of us that is needing mended. Our soul is needing restored. Not in the way we tend to think, like putting makeup on or freshening an already decent looking item. Restoration is to take something broken, unusable, rusted and falling apart, and turning it into a show stopping piece.
Travel with me for a moment to two passages of scripture as we unlock the secret to a healthy soul.
Matthew 20. We see a landowner hiring laborers for his vineyard. He does this four times throughout the day and pays each worker the same wage. The SAME wage! The audacity of this man. The unfairness of this situation. And we've all been there! God, why would you allow this? If you follow me to verse 15 we see the response to our cries for justice.
"Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things? Or is your eye evil because I am good?"
Here it is again. The pattern we need to follow, but forget. We can not ask God why He would do something without first addressing the fact that He is good. Is not the earth His to do with as He pleases? Should we not echo Job in saying, "should I only accept good from God and not also trouble?"
I am glad God is not fair. I am glad that God has not judged me or condemned me as I deserve. "All have sinned...and the wages of this sin is death, BUT the gift of God is eternal life!"
Luke 15. This is another familiar passage covering the second half of this chapter. We see the wayward son, wanting out from under his fathers house. We also see the faithful son, diligent to the work given him. At some point in the story we see a shift in the demeanor of both sons. The prodigal realizes the error of his ways, and the faithful realizes that he never seems to be rewarded or noticed for his good deeds. If we are not careful with our souls, the faithful of God can become the prodigal.
The Father throws a party for his lost son while the faithful son is out doing what he does best: working hard. As he is returning from the fields, he notices something going on at the house. A party perhaps. Who could be celebrated? Maybe all my work is finally getting noticed? Let me bring a servant over and ask what this is all about.
And in that one act, the faithful reveals our secret. We don't want to talk about it. We call it being disgruntled. We call it being frustrated. We call it anger. We call it many things for fear of digging to the root and seeing that maybe something darker is hiding there.
The son does not trust his father.
And in these two stories we see two problems mankind has with God. We see the mess that we are in along with the solution to a life of heartache, jealousy, envy and pain. Here they are:
1. Is God Good? We don't always believe that He is. How could He? Why would He? These phrases are too commonplace in our lives. If He is truly good, we have to start by saying so. I may not understand it all, but God is good. We can not afford to make Him anything that He is not. We will never be settled in our souls with the unknown in life, until we can come to terms with this thought, "No matter what, I believe that God is good."
2. Do You Trust Him? If we really trusted our Father, we could truly celebrate the success of others. If we really trusted God, we could have peace in the midst of our hurts and pains. If we really trusted Him, success would be defined differently than what we previously thought. If we really trusted, we could lean into Him and enjoy the path He laid out for us without always wanting to be on someone else's path.
These two thoughts go hand in hand. You cannot have one without the other. You cannot trust if He is not good. If He is not good, you cannot trust. I hope and pray that you can find peace with these truth's about God and about us. Don't settle for an average life. Don't just survive another day. Let's deal with our hurts and pains and frustrations of life by looking up! Turn your eyes upon Jesus! He is that good and He can be trusted!