I’m not smart enough to reconcile the problem of Evil, but I offer this to you as some form of exhortation, my brothers and sisters in the Struggle. No olivides, somos en la guerra.
Perhaps we have forgotten half of the equation as we ask “Why do bad things happen to good people?” Somehow, we’ve begun to say “What is God doing to us?” I think we need to look a little further into it to understand why bad things really do happen to good people. I think struggles are a clear sign of something quite encouraging. The classic example which everyone turns to on the problem of evil is Job (side note, read Job, it’s chock full of deep, deep stuff). It’ll probably help if you have the book of Job open while you read this. We will mainly stick around the first Chapter. - CT
The Bible makes it clear that Job was a “good person” in Job 1:1. In fact, he is considered a great man. He was a man of substantial power and wealth.
God boasts about Job to Satan (that alone is pretty interesting to think about).
It’s important to note the exchange between God and Satan which precedes any of the “bad things” that happen to Job. God gives Satan permission to act as he choses, BUT He is clear that Job is not to be touched.
So Satan goes out and does his dirty work. One by one the cards begin to fall. The world around Job is essentially burned to the ground, metaphorically and literally. Bad things happen to a good man.
Now, let’s pause and think about what it means to be a “good man.” In my personal understanding of the Bible, I believe that a “good man” is one who is moving for the Kingdom. A “good man” is someone who is going to seek after the heart of God and who is going to make every effort to reflect that heart to a broken world. A good man is someone who scares Satan out of his mind.
I think that’s it. I think that’s exactly what we need to know about suffering and pain.
Satan does “bad things” to Job in hopes that Job will stop pursuing the Truth. The afflictions which are poured over Job’s head have a specific aim: for Job to “curse God and die” (2:9). We know this, because the end of Chapter 1 says, “In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.”
Bad things happen to good people because Satan knows that good people have the power to bring about the Kingdom of God.
Our initial response to this is often, “Well, why does God even allow Satan to cause such destruction? Why does God allow me to feel pain? Doesn’t He LOVE me!?”
But the Holy Spirit has a different message for us that starts with this blatant Truth: we don’t really understand pain very well.
Maybe, in a weird way, pain is a good thing.
Don’t take that as a call to masochism. I don’t think I’m supposed to go about my day thinking “How can I hurt myself today?”
But what about the New Testament? What about James 1:2? Why should we “consider it pure joy” whenever we face “trials and sufferings of many kinds?”
I might be just talking crazy, but here’s what I think.
Trials and sufferings should be the most encouraging thing you ever face in your entire life. The reason you should feel joy of an unparalleled purity in times of immense struggle is because these moments should let you know that Satan is absolutely terrified of what you might do for the Kingdom of Heaven. Ironically, the times in which you feel the weakest should actually be the times that you are reminded of the utter power and authority you have been given in the Holy Spirit. I think Satan roams the earth and looks at people. Take that literally or metaphorically, I’m not sure it really matters. He sees people pursuing God. He sees people with the potential to reconcile the world back to the Truth. As he sees these good people working for the Kingdom, he wants to do everything in his power to stop them. He wants to lie to them and tell them “You are so weak. You are so worthless. You are so unloved. Curse God and die.” He will throw every trick out of hell in your direction, because he knows that if you realize your true power, heritage, and dignity the mind of God will advance in sweeping fashion.
The irony of suffering is that we too often succumb to the Devil’s lies that we are powerless and unloved when in fact the Liar comes to us because he is absolutely terrified of our power and love.
We bet the farm on this Jesus thing. If the barn burns down, that’s a sure sign that our bet was a smart one.
If you feel broken hearted. If you feel like you’re just not good enough. If you feel like God has forsaken you. If you feel like you are unworthy of love. If you feel like you’ve messed up just too many times. If you feel weak. If you feel stupid. If you feel ugly. If you feel purposeless.
If you feel like the Kingdom of Heaven is a long way off.
Remember the Deceiver and take up arms against him.
You are the agent of reconciliation, you are the bringer of the Kingdom of Heaven. You are loved beyond all understanding.
This is the Truth; let no Liar tell you otherwise.