Natural disasters have been occurring in unusual frequency. It seems that one news coverage is not quite over until a new one demands attention. We see the images of earthquakes, tsunamis, tornadoes, flooding, and drought-induced wildfire so often that we become almost desensitized to them and their impact on humans. In past few months, thousands of people have died or been injured. These happenings cause many to question, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” My younger son, Mannon, requested that I address this issue for him and his friends living on the East Coast.
It is crucial to understand that God did not create evil or hurtful things. One definition of the word evil is, “ Something that brings sorrow, distress, or calamity.” (Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary) God created the earth and man, and His creation was good.. (Genesis 1-2) God gave man the freedom of choice. When Adam freely chose to disobey God, evil, and consequently hurtful things, entered into the world. God placed a curse on humans and the earth because of sin. (Genesis 3) There was no suffering, pain, tears, death, tragedy or natural disasters before this recorded in the Bible. God is not to be blamed for what Adam did. We are descendants of Adam and have inherited his depravity. From the time we are born, we have a natural tendency to sin. (Ephesians 2:3) (Example: We do not have to teach a child to lie; we have to teach him to tell the truth. Lying comes naturally.) There is no “good” person. (Romans 3:12)
While evil is not just the absence of good, it can be argued that it is a privation of that which is advantageous. Good is so because the Word of God and His laws declare it to be. God chose man’s sexual desire as His plan for humans to populate the earth. (Genesis 2:24, 3:16, 4:1) This is good, but it makes possible evil acts such as adultery, rape, and prostitution. Rain, cold air and hot air are good; but they can cause a tornado.
The Bible teaches that unpleasant things happen in the lives of Christians for their ultimate growth. They make Christians grow and mature. (I Peter 1:6-7) You do not sharpen an ax on butter. The Old Testament book of Job illustrates how terrible things in Job’s life caused him to praise God more than he ever had. Satan told God that the only reason Job loved Him was because he was so blessed. God permitted Satan to inflict much sorrow and pain into Job’s life. In a remarkably short time, Job lost health, wealth and children. Job did not accuse God; he accused the accusers of God. Job’s love for God grew during all of the disasters (including a tornado) in his life. In the end, God restored Job’s health, wealth and happiness. The highest form of praise is that from a person who is experiencing great trials but continues to exalt the Lord. (I Peter 4:13)
A God that can be comprehended is not God. My nine-month-old grandson (Joshua) cannot understand the life and work of Albert Einstein. Albert Einstein said that he could not understand the mind of God. The prophet Isaiah records, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9) God allows many things that cannot be understood by man. Just because things do not make sense to man, does not mean they do not make sense. Let’s not be guilty of trying to force God into the suitcase of man’s small three-pound brain; and then trimming off everything that does not fit inside the suitcase.
If bad things had not followed the fall of Adam, people would have never experienced a hunger for God and that which is good. When unfortunate things happen, we remember that something is wrong. This is what God meant when He told Adam, “. . . cursed is the ground for thy sake… “(Genesis 3:17) The good news is that Jesus Christ is coming back to this earth to clean up the mess that Adam made. (I Thes. 4:16-18., Rev. 21:1) Everyone who has placed their faith in Him will have a new body that will never age or die. Bad things will never happen to them again. (1 Cor. 15:51–58)
Because of Jesus, good things can happen to bad people!
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Next Week: Were the actions of Seal Team Six immoral?
About Dr. Mike Harmon
Dr. Harmon began preaching at the age of 15 while living in southern California. He has conducted over 600 revivals and evangelistic campaigns nationwide, and has served as Senior Pastor at seven churches. Dr. Harmon has degrees from Central Baptist College, the University of Central Arkansas, and a Ph.D. From the Christian Bible College and Seminary.
He has served as trustee for Southeastern Baptist College and Chairman of the trustees for the BMA Theological Seminary. He also served as Chaplain for the Mississippi Highway Patrol, the Arkansas State Police and the Arkansas State Senate. His many sermons and articles on Christian Apologetics are widely published.
He is married to one wife of 43 years; has two sons, and seven grandchildren. He considers the simple pleasures of cooking, dining with family and friends, and liesurely rides on his Harley through the Texas Hill Country to be some of the most enjoyable blessings from the Lord.