Summary: Bad things can happen for a variety of reasons. This message examines those reasons and how we can respond. Part 2 of a series inspired by Philip Yancey’s book "Disappointment with God."

I found these letters to God on a website this week. They are supposedly real letters written by real kids to God:

Dear God,

I didn’t think orange went with purple until I saw the sunset you made on Tuesday. That was cool!

Signed, Eugene

Dear God,

Thank you for my baby brother, but what I prayed for was a puppy.

Signed, Joyce

Dear God,

I want to be just like my daddy when I get big, but not with so much hair all over.

Signed, Sam

Dear God,

Maybe Cain would not have killed Abel if they had their own rooms. It works with my brother.

Signed, Larry

Dear God,

I bet it is very hard for you to love all the people in the world. There are only four people in our family and I can never do it.

Signed, Nan

Dear God,

Did you mean for the giraffe to look like that or was it an accident?

Signed, Norma

Dear God,

Who draws the lines around the countries?

Signed, Nan

Dear God,

I went to this wedding and they kissed right in church. Is that okay?

Signed Neil

Dear God,

My brothers told me about being born, but it doesn’t sound right. They are just kidding, aren’t they?

Signed, Marsha

Those are cute. I like reading things like that. Kids have some of the best questions for God. But I suspect there’s one question all of us would like to ask God: Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People? We all experience things in life that we’d rather not experience. We all know of good people who suffer tragedies. Why is that? Why does a good, loving God allow these things to happen?

As I prepared for this message this morning and asked myself, “Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?” I found that there wasn’t any one answer that could answer that question fully. Because there are a variety of reasons bad things happen and a variety of things that contribute. And each situation is unique with different reasons behind them. So what I want to do this morning is go through a list of several possible answers to why bad things happen to good people, none of which fully answers the question but each of which could be the answer in a specific situation. And then at the end, we’ll talk about how we can deal with the bad things that happen to us.

Possible Reasons Bad Things Happen:

1. Bad things can happen because you’ve done something wrong. (Numbers 12:1-16; John 9:1-11)

You’ve probably heard about Moses and know how God used him to lead the Israelites out of captivity in Egypt through the desert for 40 years before they settled in the land God promised to them. You may not be as familiar with his sister, Miriam. Miriam worked alongside Moses during this time, but she became a bit prideful and even jealous of Moses. So much so that she started to speak against him. And God rebuked her for that. In fact, she became leprous for a period of time because of it. Something bad happened to her because of a sin she had committed… she had done something wrong

There are some people that would say that this is the one and only answer to the question of why bad things happen. Because you deserve it. We referred to it last week as the “health and wealth gospel.” If you’re living for Jesus, things are going to go your way, but if you have sin in your life or if your faith isn’t strong enough bad things are going to happen to you. Yes, sometimes that is the case, but not usually. There are plenty of other possible reasons why bad things happen and this is not the only answer.

Lynn read a passage for us earlier about a man who was born blind. And in this passage Jesus’ own disciples seem to get wrapped up with this as being why. They asked Jesus why the man was blind… was it because of some sin the man had committed or because of a sin his parents had committed. In their minds, those were the only possible explanations. How did Jesus respond?

John 9:3 (NLT)

“It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered. “He was born blind so the power of God could be seen in him.”

Bad things happen because you’ve done something wrong… sometimes, but not always.

The second possible answer kind of goes along with the first…

2. Bad things can happen because someone else has done something wrong. (Jonah 1)

In the Bible we’re told about a man named Jonah. Jonah was a prophet in the Old Testament, and he was told by God to go to the city of Nineveh to preach to the people there. But he refused because he despised the people of Nineveh. In fact, Jonah decided that he would head in the opposite direction toward Tarshish.

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Scott Strohkirch

commented on Jan 23, 2008

If you do this sermon again, I would look at why good things happen to bad people. We are all sinners even though we are saved by the work of Christ on the cross. We are inherently bad people until we receive Christ through Holy Baptism. This is just something for thought.

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