Why Bad Things Happen to Good People: Three Unpopular Reasons

sad-316424_640In our “self-esteem-motivated” culture, this is very unpopular to say, but there really are no “good” people. So when bad things happen to us, it’s often at the hands of others. This is a hard truth, but if we take a brutally-honest look at humanity, historically we’ve fallen short of goodness in countless ways. For example, history shows that the most heinous crimes committed on mankind, despite what we want to believe, are by ordinary men. In World War II, for example, regular police officers were asked to kill Jews, male/female, young/old, by gunshots to the head as the victims lay defenseless on the ground. Officers were offered a chance to decline this “job,” yet only a handful opted out. Those who did were treated as cowards or traitors. Remember, Hitler was not able to murder millions single-handedly! Hundreds participated in the executions at German Nazi concentration camps, like Auschwitz, from 1940–1945. These exterminators were shopkeepers, dentists, businessmen—people just like you and me!

We would like think that we’d never stoop to such evil acts, but given the right circumstances, we might. I thought as a woman, I’d never do the horrors men committed at Auschwitz! However, after thinking about it, millions of babies have been aborted in the past 30 years at the “choice” of women. In a sense, this is more insidious because it’s subtle murder with support of our medical community and culture.

1. So, first off, we are all capable of doing awful acts to each other. God created us with free will, and this includes choices for great deeds or horrific ones.

“We … tend to overestimate the inherent goodness of human nature,” as Dr. John S. Feinberg states. “The problem with a Hitler (and all sinners) isn’t lack of knowledge, but perversity of heart and will.”

2. Secondly, bad things happen to people at the forces of demonic powers. This is also not a popular subject to discuss, and if you speak about this to non-believers, they’ll think you’re psychotic! Be careful to discuss this spiritual dynamic with someone who is a mature Christian. Regardless of what skeptics think, there is a vast array of evil and malicious spirits who make war against the people of God. The principalities and powers of Satan (Eph. 6:12) are beings that wield power in the unseen realms to oppose everything and everyone that is of God. That is why the good guys sometimes loose at the hands of the wicked. God also created angels with freedom who chose to rebel against His sovereignty, and they were banned to earth as demons until God’s plans are ultimately fulfilled.

3. Lastly, we are very limited in our understanding of how God works through the tapestries of the world and our own lives. We cannot know everything (despite what some think), and sometimes we just won’t know why bad things happen. We might suffer even if we’ve done nothing wrong! This should not cause us to question or doubt God because the New Testament warns us that we will suffer. It can be redemptive suffering—how we suffer as Christ suffered (see Matt. 5:11; 2 Cor. 1:5; Phil. 3:10; and 1 Peter 4:13)—and it can be persecution for taking a stand on truth. I believe suffering matters when you’re a Christian—it means something to God—it’s not for nothing.

If you’re experiencing suffering, or have had a string of bad experiences in your life, hang in there—heaven is not interwoven with earth… yet. Until that time comes (Rev. 21:1), we will have troubles in this life. That’s why we need to lean on each other, the Body of Christ, for fellowship and comfort, in addition to sticking close to Jesus in our prayer lives. Together, we can “press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize” (Phil. 3:14).


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