Summary: It’s easy to think that bad things happen because God is out to get us. That’s not true. The Bible establishes some reasons why things don’t turn out they way we’d like – personal sin, corporate sin, and evil influences. While we can’t insulate ourselv

Why Do Bad Things Happen?

Brian Bill


I like puns. Here are two are my favorites.

Two boll weevils grew up in South Carolina. One went to Hollywood and became a famous actor. The other stayed behind in the cotton fields and never amounted to much. The second one, naturally, became known as the lesser of two weevils.

Two Eskimos sitting in a kayak were chilly, but when they lit a fire, it sank. Proving once again that you can’t have your kayak and heat it, too.

Beth and I used to enjoy watching Home Improvement. One of the best parts of the show would come at the end when they would run the bloopers from that particular episode.

There’s something very funny about watching other people mess up. But let’s face it; real-life problems are nothing to laugh at, especially when they happen to you. Like “bloopers,” some pretty awful things have made an unwelcome entry on the screen of your life.

If you’re not going through a hard time right now, just wait -- you will. That’s the nature of living in a world like ours. Pain is guaranteed for anyone who takes on the task of living. Some of you are in the furnace of suffering right now. Others of you have just come out, and the rest of us will be there sooner or later.

Going through bad times begs a couple questions, “What have I done to deserve this kind of treatment?” “Why does God allow this to happen?” And so we wonder. Did God just make a blooper? Is this all just a bad pun? A big cosmic mistake?

The topic we’re tackling this morning is the most commonly asked question about God -- it’s been referred to as the “Achilles Heel” of Christianity. George Barna, the public-opinion pollster, conducted a national survey in which he polled adults: “If you could ask God one question, what would you ask?” The top response was, “Why is there pain and suffering in the world?”

In a story that appeared in the New Yorker this week, it was reported that CNN founder Ted Turner was suicidal after the breakup of his marriage to Jane Fonda and losing control of Turner Broadcasting. Interestingly, Turner told the magazine that his marriage to Fonda broke up partly because of her decision to become a practicing Christian.

Turner is a strident nonbeliever who is filled with bitterness not just because of his marital and business problems, but also because his own father killed himself when Ted was 24 and then his sister later died from a painful disease. When asked about these tragedies, Turner responded, “I couldn’t understand how someone so innocent should be allowed to suffer so much.” (Associated Press, 4/16/01).

This is not just an intellectual issue to be debated in sterile academic arenas: it’s an intensely personal matter that can leave us with spiritual vertigo. One writer referred to the problem of pain as the “the question mark that turns like a fishhook in the human heart.”

Reasons for Bad Things

The Bible helps us see that there are at least four reasons why bad things happen.

1. Our Personal Sin. This explains why there is so much moral evil in the world. In order to understand this, we need to go back to the first book in the Bible, the book of Genesis. We read here that God created Adam and Eve in His image. That doesn’t mean they looked like God, but instead that they were given the ability to make rational choices.

God did not create evil. Rather, He created the possibility of evil when He created human beings. We have actualized that potentiality. God gave Adam and Eve some moral parameters and very clearly told them what they could and could not do. But they chose to defy and disobey His standards. Ever since that day, every one of us have been born with that same ability to make choices -- and with the same rebellious bent for sin. We can make decisions that either build others up, or tear them down. In other words, our actions often have a direct impact on other people.

Luke 13:1 tells us about a group of people who came up to Jesus and asked Him why Pilate murdered some men and women while they were worshipping in the Temple. After killing them, he took their blood and mixed it with the blood of their sacrifices. Our entire country asked a similar question after Larry Gene Ashbrook went on a shooting spree at Wedgewood Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas on September 16, 1999, killing seven people. Both groups of worshippers were murdered because of the sinful choices made by two different men separated by almost two centuries – Pontius Pilate and Larry Ashbrook.

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