Summary: It is inevitable in life that tragedies and pain will occur. However, if God is good why does He allow these bad things to happen to good people?
Introduction: Many years ago, two prominent movie stars died in separate alcohol-related accidents. William Holden died in a drunken fall, hitting his head on a table; Natalie Wood drowned when she fell into the ocean from her yacht. A friend who was close to both of them, actress Stephanie Powers, was quoted in the newspapers: "Two of my best friends are gone; how can a God who is supposed to be kind and loving allow this to happen?" This is the same question that was being asked after the terrorist attacks on 9/11. It’s the same question that was asked after Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans or the earthquake in Haiti. It’s the same question that is asked every time someone loses their job or some kind of tragedy strikes. How can a good God allow bad things to happen to good people?
I want to introduce you today to a good man that bad things happened to. If there ever was a good man Job was that man. The Bible tells us that Job was the most righteous man of his generation. Yet bad things happened to him. In one day he lost his wealth, his children and the respect of his wife. How could God allow these bad things to happen to such a righteous man? What we learn from Job is that suffering and tragedy is a part of life.
“Man born of woman is of few days and full of trouble” (Job 14:1). I can tell who in this room is going to have trouble in life. I can tell who bad things are going to happen to. The answer is everyone who is born of a woman. In other words, everyone who is born, rich or poor, black or white is going to have bad things happen in their life. Not only will you have bad things happen your days will be relatively few. In other words you’re going to die. Some are going to die at a ripe old age and some are going to die young. Don’t you feel encouraged? We are asking why bad things happen to good people as if we are shocked at the notion that bad things actually happen. The fact is that bad things happen to everybody. Why are we surprised when bad things happen to good people? Good people or bad people, we are just people and we will all face trouble.
“Yet man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward” (Job 5:7).
“In this world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
“…through many tribulations we must enter the Kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22).
The interesting thing about the Book of Job is that God never explicitly answers Job’s questions about why these bad things happened to him. Job had an opinion about why it happened and his friends certainly had opinions about why it happened. It would have been so easy for God to just give us a clear answer as to why this happened to Job but God remained silent. For 37 chapters Job and his friends accuse God of being unfair and capricious in His dealings with men and God remained silent. Finally in Job 38 God speaks.
Then the LORD answered Job out of the storm. He said: 2 "Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge? 3 Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me. 4 "Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation? Tell me, if you understand. 5 Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? 6 On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone- 7 while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy” (Job 38:1-7)?
For the next four chapters God Himself puts Job on trial. God never answers Job’s question about why these bad things happened to him but by the end of Job’s interrogation he has come to a new understanding of God’s wisdom. Job finally realized there were some things that he would never know. Notice Job’s response in chapter 42,
“Surely I spoke of things I didn’t understand, things too wonderful for me to know…My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:3-6).
The message of Job cuts against the grain of some popular Christian teaching which says that God’s main concern is to make us happy, healthy and wealthy. God’s main concern is not to make us happy but to make us holy. This reality can be quite disturbing for many people. You see people tend to serve God for what they can get out of Him. It’s nothing more than a shrewd business transaction. If God blesses me and favors me then I’ll serve Him, but if He doesn’t then I won’t. For the most part we are nothing more than religious consumers looking for the best return on our investment. If God makes the cut then I’ll give Him a shot. But when bad things happen and suffering comes we reject Him. Job said “Shall we accept good from God and not trouble” (Job 2:9)? As Job portrays it’s hard to enjoy God sometimes. Yet we still must trust Him. Job was able to say through it all, “Though He slay me yet will I trust Him” (Job 13:11-15). God chooses many times not to give us answers because He doesn’t owe us an explanation. While God doesn’t explicitly answer the question as to why these bad things happened to Job or why bad things happen to good people in general we can gather enough biblical data to sufficiently answer that puzzling question.