Faithlife Sermons

WHY DO BAD THINGS HAPPEN TO GOOD PEOPLE

Notes
Transcript
Psalm 73:13-14
I want to ask you a question. But I want you to think through very carefully before you answer the question. It may sound like a trick question but it really isn’t. The answer is very simple.
How many of you were born of a woman; you came into this world by a woman? In other words, you had a mother. Then I have two things to say to you. First of all, you are not long for this world. Secondly, the short time you do have here will be full of trouble. You are headed for trouble and trouble is headed for you.
Job 14:1 KJV 1900
1 Man that is born of a woman Is of few days, and full of trouble.
tells us, Man who is born of woman is of few days, and full of trouble.”
Now when you think about the question “Why do bad things happen to good people?” do not get the impression that bad things only happen to good people. Bad things also happen to bad people. Likewise, when you ask the question, “Why do good things happen to bad people?” don’t get the impression that good things only happen to bad people. Because good things also happen to good people. In fact, I believe if you counted up your blessings you would find out they far outnumber your burdens.
Don’t get the idea that since bad things do happen to good people, and good things do happen to bad people, that there is no need to be good and you may as well be bad. Friend, either way, whether you are good or bad, you are going to have trouble. You cannot avoid it.
You can write across the window of your life, “I don’t have time for trouble,” but trouble is going to come knocking just the same.
That reminds me of the man who had set out on a long journey and he had driven all day and got very tired. So he decided to pull over by the side of the road and take a nap. He found a nice shady place by the side of the highway and pulled over and settled down in the seat to rest. Just as he closed his eyes and fell asleep a jogger came by and knocked on his window. He rolled it down. He said, “Sir, do you have the time?” Bleary-eyed the man looked at his watch and said, “Yes, it is 5:00 o’clock.”
He settled back down into his seat and closed his eyes again and had just started sleeping when another jogger came by, knocked on the window and said, “Sir, do you have the time?” Bleary-eyed, the man looked at this watch and said, “Yes, it is 5:30.”
At this rate it was obvious he wasn’t going to get much rest so he came up with an idea. He wrote a short note and stuck it on the side of his car so anybody running by could see it. It said, “I don’t have the time.”
The man settled down for his badly needed nap. Just a few minutes later another jogger came along, knocked on his window, he rolled it down, the jogger said, “Mister, I saw your sign and I just wanted you to know that it is 6:00 o’clock.”
You may not have time for trouble, but trouble is going to come knocking just the same. But that still presents a problem. We understand why bad things happen to bad people. We understand why good things happen to good people. I believe most of us can even live with the fact that good things happen to bad people. But what bothers us most is when bad things happen to good people. It just doesn’t seem fair. It is so difficult to understand.
Well a man by the name of Asaph had exactly the same problem. In fact, he had two problems. He had a problem with the successful sinner, but he also had a problem with the suffering saint. As he looked at life two things really troubled him: On the one hand the prosperity of the rebellious man, on the other hand the problems of the righteous man. Now he had seen the one, but he had personally experienced the other.
Psalm 73:13–14 KJV 1900
13 Verily I have cleansed my heart in vain, And washed my hands in innocency. 14 For all the day long have I been plagued, And chastened every morning.
13Verily I have cleansed my heart in vain, And washed my hands in innocency.
14For all the day long have I been plagued, And chastened every morning.

Asaph was cleansed (13).

While everyone else was living high, wide, and handsome, jet setting with the party crowd, running wild, loose and free, Asaph was living a clean and a pure life.

Asaph was committed (13).

Asaph was not only clean, he stayed clean. His record was spotless. His reputation was intact. You could examine his life and you could not find one blot, one blur, one blemish or one stain.

But Asaph was cursed (14).

Asaph was very discouraged. He was saying in effect, “It was not until I got saved that all the trouble started. It was not until I got my life right that things started going wrong. Now it seems as if life is just one bad thing after another.”

Asaph was chastened (14).

He was saying, “When I get up I feel as if God is whipping me. Every morning I feel as if the first thing that God does is take me to the woodshed and whip me just on general principles, even though I haven’t done anything wrong.

Asaph was confused (14).

Asaph was saying, “I just don’t understand this, it was too painful for me. It seems like the meaner my neighbor gets, the better things are. While the better I am, the worse things get. I don’t understand it. I mean it is one thing for good things to happen to bad people, but I don’t understand why bad things happen to good people.”
It is difficult to understand, but I believe that it is an understandable problem. There are three truths that I believe if you will remember, will help you solve this seemingly unsolvable problem and answer this seemingly unanswerable question, “Why do bad things happen to good people?”

I. THE POWER OF GOD TO RESCUE US FROM TROUBLE

A. We Know God Could Prevent Trouble…

1. One of the things that bother us is that we know that God could prevent trouble from ever coming to his people if He chose to. Because oftentimes God has. In Hebrews 11 we find God’s Hall of Faith. It is a panorama of holy heroes from a distant past, men and women of great faith who were mighty conquerors for God. Beginning in v. 32, the author gives us example after example of men whom God protected from trouble (Vs 32-35).
Hebrews 11:32–35 KJV 1900
32 And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets: 33 Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. 35 Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection:
32And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets:
33Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions,
34Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.
35Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection:
2. The Old Testament is brimming with example after example of how God protected his people from trouble. Daniel was thrown in the lion’s den, but the lions did not harm him and God spared the life of Daniel. The three Hebrew men were thrown into the fiery furnace, the fire being heated so hot that it killed all of the men around who cast them into the fire. But God protected them, and God delivered them, and they came out of the furnace alive.
3. In the New Testament we’re told in the book of Acts of how a poisonous snake bit the Apostle Paul and he just shook it off into the fire; didn’t even get sick.
4. Over and over again in the Word of God we are told how God protected his people from death, disease, and disaster; how God kept bad things from happening to good people. Now that blesses us, but it also bothers us.
Because if God can keep bad things from happening to ANY good person why doesn’t God keep bad things from happening to EVERY good person.
5. In Acts 12 we are told that James, the brother of John, was thrown into prison and Herod cut him in half with a sword. But four chapters later, in Acts 16, we are told that Paul and Silas were miraculously delivered from prison. Three men went to jail. One man went to the executioner’s block. The other two went on with the jailer.
6. Genesis, the first book of the Old Testament, records how Joseph was thrown into prison, but God miraculously delivered Joseph from that prison and made him Prime Minister of Egypt. Matthew the first book of the New Testament, records how John the Baptist was thrown into prison, but he was not delivered. His head was delivered on a silver platter. Now
Why is it that in times of trouble God will deliver one saint from trouble, but he won’t deliver another saint from trouble? At times God will heal that sick person, but at times he allows another one to die?

B. God’s Principles And Promises Are The Same For Every Believer…

1. God’s principles and promises are the same for every believer, but
His plans and purposes may be entirely different. Hebrews 11:32-35 sounds so encouraging, but the most important word in this passage is the word others in
Hebrews 11:35 KJV 1900
35 Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection:
2. What about these others?
Did God love those who succeeded more than he loved those who suffered?
Absolutely not.
Did those who succeeded love God more than those who suffered?
Absolutely not. It was simply that
His plan and purpose was different for both.
Friend,
Don’t ever try to compare your spiritual experience with the experience of someone else.
That’s when jealousy and envy and bitterness sets in. You just need to be concerned with God’s plan and purpose for your life.
3. In John 21:18-19 the Lord Jesus tells Peter exactly how he was going to die (vs. 18-19).
John 21:18–19 KJV 1900
18 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not. 19 This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me.
He told Peter he was going to be crucified. And in fact, Peter was crucified upside down. But then Peter looked at John and asked Lord, what about this man?” Jesus said to him If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow me.” (vs. Luke 21:21-22)
Luke 21:21–22 KJV 1900
21 Then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto. 22 For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.
God’s promises for Peter and John were exactly the same. But His plan was entirely different.
This fact leads us to the second truth to remember:

II. THE PURPOSE OF GOD TO REDEEM US IN TROUBLE

1. You see,
Sometimes the Lord DIVERTS us from trouble, but sometimes He DIRECTS us to trouble that He might then DELIVER us through trouble.
2.
Psalm 34:19 KJV 1900
19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous: But the Lord delivereth him out of them all.
Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all” Now notice it doesn’t say the believer won’t have trouble, but that the Lord will deliver him through that trouble.
3. Now
Why does God allow us to go through trials and troubles?
Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?
Or more specifically, why does God allow bad things to happen to God’s people?

A. To Reveal His Person…

1. God allows trouble to come into your life so that He might draw you close to Him. In some instances people can’t be drawn close to God, they have to be driven close to God. That is a purpose that God has for trials and difficulties.
2.
Psalm 46:1 KJV 1900
1 God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble.
tells us, God is our refuge and strength, and a very present help in trouble.”
3. One reason why God allows difficulty and trouble to come is so that you in a special way might know His presence, His love and His grace. Now God is always with us in the person of His Holy Spirit, but you talk to people who have been through trials and tragedies and tribulations, and so often they will testify that God is with you powerfully, personally and privately in the middle of our greatest difficulties. (Isa. 43:2,5)
Isaiah 43:2 KJV 1900
2 When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: When thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; Neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.
Isaiah 43:5 KJV 1900
5 Fear not: for I am with thee: I will bring thy seed from the east, And gather thee from the west;
4. We mentioned previously the story of three men who were cast into the fiery furnace. Now you know the story and remember that when they threw them into the furnace there were not three men, but actually four. The fourth man was the Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ.
5. Now I want to ask you a question.
Was Jesus with these three men before they were thrown into the fire?
You better believe it or else they would have never gotten into the fire. But they did not see Jesus until they got into the fire. So often God allows us to get into the fiery furnace so that we might see Him.
6. When our Lord Jesus was in the middle of His greatest trial, hanging on the cross, forsaken by the world, His disciples and even the Father’s back had been turned to Him. For the first time in his life it seemed as if His Heavenly Father was so far away. But I tell you that in the midst of His greatest trial, His Heavenly Father was so close that the Lord Jesus could speak to Him and say, Father, into Thy hands I commend my spirit.” In that last moment of death, Jesus could reach out and touch the hand of His Heavenly Father.
7. Get down and get it straight.
One of the purposes of trouble is to get us to focus on God.
You see, so often when we go through troubles we focus on the trouble. Now when you focus on your troubles you’re going to get into trouble. When the storms of life come, and come they will, you had better not focus on the storm. When Peter walked on water he was fine until he changed his focus (Matthew 14). When he changed his focus he lost his faith and when he lost his faith he sank in failure.

B. To Refine His People…

1. Nothing is ever lost with God. He uses all things,” circumstances, situations, trials and troubles to full His purposes in our lives. He uses them to reveal His person and He also uses them to refine His people.

God uses troubles to TAME His children.

2. God sometimes uses troubles to discipline us, to correct us and to chastise UNRULY children. Christian’s sometimes get the idea that if bad things happen to them that evidently they’re not saved and God doesn’t love them. Listen, trouble does not mean that you’re not saved. Trouble may very well mean that you are saved. Troubles are proof positive that God does love you.
3. If you are a child of God you cannot sin and enjoy it. In fact, I’ll give you a test right now. If you are living in sin at this moment; if you are living in willful disobedience to God and your conscience does not bother you; there is no ill fruit in your life, you are not a child of God. If you are living in sin, if you are living in disobedience right now, you are headed for one of two places. You are headed for the woodshed, or you are headed for hell.
Sometime God uses trouble to discipline his children when they are not living for Him. As a good parent should, God disciplines His children when they fall into continual, willful disobedience.
4. Now that bothers a lot of people. There are some people who just
do not believe that God ever chastises his children; that God cannot use trouble as a means of discipline in our lives. The fact that God disciplines us should not bother us, but rather comfort us (Psalm 23:4).
Psalm 23:4 KJV 1900
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
David was glad that God loved him enough to direct him to do right. But he also loved him enough to discipline him when he did wrong.
5.
Proverbs 3:11–12 KJV 1900
11 My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord; Neither be weary of his correction: 12 For whom the Lord loveth he correcteth; Even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.
6. Then

God uses troubles to TEST his children.

It is one thing to praise God, to believe God, to trust God, to obey God when things are good, but REAL FAITH BELIEVES GOD WHEN THINGS ARE BAD.
Sometimes God allows troubles to come into our lives to show us just how strong, or how weak our faith really is. There is nothing that can test your faith like trouble and difficulty (Proverbs 24:10, Job 13:15)
Proverbs 24:10 KJV 1900
10 If thou faint in the day of adversity, Thy strength is small.
Job 13:15 KJV 1900
15 Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: But I will maintain mine own ways before him.
7.
Every experience of trial puts us to this test: “Do you trust God or not?”
Every test of your faith is a test of your love for the Lord. In every trial there is a choice.
It takes more faith to endure trouble than it does to escape trouble.
8. But then God allows troubles at times that He might TEACH us. (Psalm 119:71)
Psalm 119:71 KJV 1900
71 It is good for me that I have been afflicted; That I might learn thy statutes.
There are times that God wants to teach you things that can only be taught in tough times. When trouble comes, instead of asking, “Why is this happening?” you need to be asking, “Lord, what are you wanting to teach me?”
9. Have you ever thought about the fact that you can see farther at night than you can in the daytime? In the daytime we can see the sun, which is 93 million miles away. But at night we can see the stars that are galaxies away from the sun. God at times draws the curtains of night over our soul that our spiritual sight might be increased and we might learn things about Him and about ourselves we could never learn otherwise.

C. To Release His Peace…

1. In Paul’s letters to the churches, churches that were often undergoing tremendous persecution, he always included the phrase grace and peace to you.” Do you know why Paul was asking God to give them His grace and His peace? Because of the troubles, trials and tribulations they were facing.
2.
What is the difference between grace and peace?
We know that grace always precedes peace; therefore peace is the gift of grace.
In reference to troubles:
Grace is the ability God gives us to face troubles.
Peace is the serenity God gives in the midst of trouble.
Peace is not the absence of trouble.
Peace is the presence of God in the midst of trouble.
3. Two artists were commissioned by a city to paint a picture of peace, with the winning picture being displayed in the city museum. The first artist drew a picture of an ocean as still as a pond with sailboats floating quietly by. Overhead the sky was blue flecked with light fluffy clouds. On the shore children played in the sand, making castles while families picnicked nearby.
4. The second artist painted a totally different picture. He depicted a wild and rocky shore that was being hammered by angry billows and waves, bursting up in towering clouds of spray. He painted a sky that was black with dark storm clouds rolling with thunder and rocking with lightening. He painted palm trees bent over double from the force of the gales and the winds. Frightened people were scurrying for some kind of cover and shelter. But far up in the little nook of a cliff, hidden in the cleft of the rock and sheltered from the storm sat a little bird, safe and secure in her nest, looking out with a serene and untroubled eye at all the turmoil beneath. Beneath the picture was the caption peace that passeth all understanding.

III. THE PROMISE OF GOD TO REWARD US IN TROUBLE

1. I am going to be truthful with you, I don’t care now good and godly you are, bad things are going to happen to you. Because bad things do happen to good people. But don’t quit. Don’t give up. (Hebrews 10:32ff, 35)
Hebrews 10:32 KJV 1900
32 But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions;
Hebrews 10:35 KJV 1900
35 Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward.
2. The Lord’s own brother, James, was stoned to death by the Jewish High Priest. He was murdered because of his faith in Jesus. This James said,
James 1:12 KJV 1900
12 Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.
3. What do you do if you’re a good person and bad things are happening to you? Well, the best thing, the right thing, the only thing you should do, is just trust in God.
Have faith in God, He’s on His throne;
Have faith in God, He watches over His own;
He cannot fail, He must prevail;
Have faith in God, have faith in God
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