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  • Erik Hatch

The Big Question

For as long as I can remember, one of the biggest questions in my life has been, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” Have you ever asked God that question? What has happened to you in life that left you feeling like you got the raw end of a deal?

If you’re anything like me, you think of this question in two ways: 1) Why do bad things happen to those good people whom I love? 2) Why do bad things happen to me?

At church this morning I heard the pastor speak on this exact question – and he answered it more eloquently than I had ever heard before. He said that a group of college students recently asked him to preach on this question – and he smirked, and calmly responded, “What makes us think that we’re good? And why does God owe us anything?”

BOOM – it hit me. I think that, for so long, I have felt like God owed me something (although I would have never named it). I felt like – if I do good things, that He would reward me – or that I’m entitled to a life without pain or discomfort. And then I would question why horrible things would happen to the ‘good’ people in my life. It just wasn’t fair.

Ever have similar feelings?

But hearing the message this morning was a true wake-up call. It was like I was finally diagnosing a disease I had been wrestling with for my whole life – and the road map for the cure was being offered.

I am fully aware that I’m a sinner (and so are those whom I love…and don’t love) – but I guess I always felt like we were entitled to an easy life because we weren’t as bad of sinners as that guy – or this guy. Do you resonate with that? Have you found yourself crying out to God, “Why me?” And don’t feel bad – even Jesus cried out to God that same sentiment (Mark 15:34). But, you see, none of us are good. None of us are entitled to His grace and love.

I’d love to be a professional athlete – especially if I never had to work out or go to the gym. But Galatians 6:7 tells us, “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” Heck, we’re so lazy most of us don’t want to do any sowing. We want A+’s without studying – we want to be great musicians without practicing – we want to be great parents without sacrificing – we want to make oodles of money without ever working hard…and we want to be strong people without enduring suffering.

But scripture reminds us of the glory that comes from pain. Paul’s letter to the Romans is bursting with Good News. He says in Romans 5, “We also REJOICE in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.”

And so I go back to the big question – why do bad things happen to good people? And I re-examine the thought that ‘good’ people even exist. Romans 3:23 says that “we all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” So, according to scripture, we’re all schmucks. We aren’t entitled to a dang thing – let alone God’s love and grace. But our God is a God of unjust love.

“Why me?” takes on a whole new meaning when we stop asking that in regard to our suffering and instead we ask “why me” about God’s copious love.

So the question should be, “Why do good things happen to bad people like you and me?” Because God is love.

Erik Hatch

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