Summary: Dealing with the age old question "Why Do Bad Things Happen To God's People



A. "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle."

It isn't the normal demands of life that break us; it's the painful surprises.

B. Where are we heading in this book?

1. Our answers to the problem of suffering must have intellectual integrity.

2. People live by promises, not by explanations.

3. We must live!

4. We must live for others.

5. The resources for creative suffering are available to us.


A. "Why do bad things happen to good people?" To ask this question we must believe:

1. There are values in this universe. Some things are "good" and some things are "bad".

2. We are assuming that there is order in the universe. Not random.

3. We must believe that people are important.

4. We believe that life is worth living. If life is not worth living, why bother to ask the questions at all.

5. We believe that we are capable of finding some answers and profiting from them.

B. The Biggest Question of All:

All other questions can be summed up in "What is the purpose of life?"

If I know who I am, why I am here, and how I fit into the scheme of the universe, then

I can better understand and handle the difficult experience of life.

"If we have our own why of life, we shall get along with almost any how."

C. Know the Purpose

Unless we know the purpose of life, we can't determine what experiences are "good" and what experiences are "bad".

1. Joseph

a. Gen 37:5&9 -- A dreamer -- A boy (B. C. 1729)

b. Gen 37:28 -- A prisoner

c. Gen 37:36 -- A slave

d. Gen 39:20 -- A prisoner (B. C. 1720)

e. Gen 41:25 -- A diviner (B. C. 1715)

f. Gen 41:37 -- A prime minister

g. Gen 42:5-9 -- A provider (B. C. 1707)

h. Gen 45:1-8 -- A pioneer -- going before (B. C. 1707)

i. Gen 50:15-21 -- A brother (B.C. 1689) 18 years from h.

2. A Case of Mistaken Identity Matt 14:22-28 A spirit -- troubled -- afraid

D. His Purpose Romans 8:28

E. Our Purpose

1. Happiness 2. Things 3. Experiences

F. The Real Purpose -- "Man was created to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever."

G. Bad Things Do Happen

Bad things not only happen to good people, but they also happen to a select group of "good people" -- God's people. The fact that we know God as our Father and Jesus Christ as our Saviour doesn't exempt us from the normal burdens of life, or form those special trials that surprise us at times. *In fact, our faith could make us a special target for enemy attack.

If there is a God, then what kind of God is He? Why isn't He big enough to do something about the "bad things" that happen to people, including His own people? How bid is God?


A. Limited God? (Remember Rabbi Kushner)

1. Early Greek Philosophers -- The basic idea is that everything in the world is a part of a process, and this includes God. God is part of the process. God is finite, no

infinite, but He has the "potential for becoming infinite". You can still believe in God, but don't expect too much from Him.

2. Problems with:

a. God can never judge sin. A God who is too weak to deal with evil is too weak

to judge it.

b. If God is part of a process, God is ever changing -- no certain revelation

is possible -- Scratch out the verse, "same today, yesterday, and forever"

c. If God is changing, whatever changes Him must be stronger that He is.

d. God cannot control the present or the future -- God is helpless

-- Prayer is worthless.

e. The very name God expresses greatness, not limited power.

B. Great Big Wonderful God

1. Beyond our Understanding Job 36:26 "Behold, God is great"

Psalms 86:10 "For thou art great" Isa 40:21-31

2. Unsearchable Rom 11:33-36; Psalms 147:3-4

C. God is Greater

1. Than the evil in the universe. The very presence of evil in the universe is a testimony to the greatness of God; for only a free and sovereign God can rule and overrule all of this evil and accomplish His eternal purposes.

2. Than our problems.

3. Than our thoughts Ephesians 3:20 "able to do exceeding"

D. God has some self-imposed limitations

1. He will not violate man's freedom of choice.

2. God will not do anything contrary to His own nature or to the nature of the truth.

Titus 1:2 "In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began."

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