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Summary: God's people often ask "Why has this happened to me?" However, God is not so much interested in why as "what." In this fallen world we cannot prevent bad things from happening. What we do in response to them is another question.

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WHEN BAD THINGS HAPPEN TO GOD’S PEOPLE?

Acts 16:25-34

25 But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.

26 Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone's chains were loosed.

27 And the keeper of the prison, awaking from sleep and seeing the prison doors open, supposing the prisoners had fled, drew his sword and was about to kill himself.

28 But Paul called with a loud voice, saying, "Do yourself no harm, for we are all here."

29 Then he called for a light, ran in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas.

30 And he brought them out and said, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?"

31 So they said, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household."

32 Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house.

33 And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized.

34 Now when he had brought them into his house, he set food before them; and he rejoiced, having believed in God with all his household.

Some years ago Harold Kushner wrote a book titled, “Why Bad Things Happen To Good People.” Kushner wrote this book because he was trying to make sense of a great tragedy in his own life. We’ve all asked the question, “Why did this have to happen to me?” Likely, this question will never be answered this side of heaven. There is one, however, that we can answer.

The nature of the world being what it is we cannot prevent bad things from happening. After all, the question of “why” is not the most important question anyway. God is more concerned with “what” than He is with “why.” Believers ought to not be asking “Why bad things happen to good people” but rather “What to do when bad things do happen to God’s people.”

1. WHEN BAD THINGS HAPPEN DON’T NEGLECT WORSHIP (v. 25):

25 But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.

Can any of us really say that we know what Paul and Silas must have been feeling while that suffered in prison? They had never done anything but good for God and had faithfully followed His plan for their lives. How could everything go so wrong? They were in prison, stripped naked, beaten bloody and possessing a very uncertain future.

What did they do about it? Moan and groan, condemn and complain? Nothing good ever comes from believers acting like that. Instead they chose to worship and make God the focus of their attention rather than their misery. Being obsessed with our miserable circumstances is a trap of the enemy. Focusing on God despite our circumstances always brings victory.

2. WHEN BAD THINGS HAPPEN DON'T UNDERESTIMATE GOD’S POWER (v. 26):

26 Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone's chains were loosed.

When Paul and Silas chose to focus on God rather than their trouble God followed up by doing something for them they could not do for themselves. Instead of their spirits being shaken God shook the foundations of the prison by sending an earthquake. The building crumbled, the doors were opened, and their chains fell off. God used one of the most destructive forces in nature not to destroy but to preserve His saints.

When bad things happen we must not make the mistake of underestimating God.

3. WHEN BAD THINGS HAPPEN DON’T BE VINDICTIVE (vv. 27-28):

27 And the keeper of the prison, awaking from sleep and seeing the prison doors open, supposing the prisoners had fled, drew his sword and was about to kill himself.

28 But Paul called with a loud voice, saying, "Do yourself no harm, for we are all here."

This isn’t likely what most of us would have said after being treated by someone like the jailer had treated Paul and Silas. The need for revenge is one of our most basic human emotions. However, there is nothing spiritual about our need for making someone else suffer the way as we have. This is not the Lord’s way. Aren’t you glad that God didn’t feel this way toward us? If Paul had sought revenge neither this man nor his family would likely have ever come to Christ.

Matthew 5:43-48

43 "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' 44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? 48 Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.

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