In the midst of the chaos, the social-injustice and the tragic, the world often begs the question: “If God is a good God, why do bad things happen to good people?”
In other words, “Why do good people suffer?”
Why do the innocent, the unknowing, the helpless, the young, the old, the poor, the foreign, the lonely, the believer and the non-believer… why do they suffer?
Why do wicked rulers rise to power and cause wars and create refugees? Why is man born capable of unspeakable acts and unconquerable emotions?
Why does “the sun rise on the evil and the good,” and why does God cause “rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” alike?
I don’t know.
I don’t know why people suffer. I don’t know why babies die, or why innocent men and women are sentenced to an early demise. I don’t know why some prayers are answered and others seemingly ignored. I don’t know why the righteous are abandoned while the wicked prosper. I don’t know all the mysteries of the personal, yet unfathomable God. But I do know this: God is good. God is holy. God loves.
God’s goodness is delineated all throughout the Bible, and leaves it’s mark all over the life of the believer. Psalm 34 says, “O taste and see the goodness of God!” God’s goodness is not an opinion of man, or an abstract thought or observation. Rather, God’s goodness is fact which we base all observations off of. It is a starting point from which believers interpret every situation and every circumstance.
God is also Holy. Isaiah 6:3 says, “And one called to another and said: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory.'”
Leviticus 11:45 says, “For I am the Lord who brought you up out of the land of Egypt to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy.”
To be “holy” means to be different, sacred and set apart. There is no greater distinction from man, than God. In a moral sense, God is the definition and decider of what is moral: right, upright, sinless, pure… in essence, holy. When we are in any manner good, it is because we are being like Him.
Finally, God loves and God’s greatest act of love was to send an innocent man to die a brutal death for the wicked and depraved. And while His love may not always look like what I imagine love should be, God is love and He does love. All.
Joy, to the world, is defined as pleasure and happiness. But that’s not so for the Christian. While happiness is a feeling, for the believer, joy is much deeper than that. Joy is, yes, a feeling. But it is also a result of the right placement of trust.
John Piper says that joy is of the soul, not of the body. Joy is produced by the Spirit, not given by the world. Joy is dependent on the character of God, not on the changing state of our circumstances.
Though seemingly impossible, in the grace of God, suffering and joy are not enemies. God’s answer to suffering is less a “what,” than a “Who.”
In the face of the deplorable and the nasty, Jesus is still the answer.
I may not know why people suffer, but I do know that no one is exempt. All the world faces suffering and sorrow, but not all have hope or eventual eternal relief.
This I know: My hope is found in Jesus Christ and if I must suffer, may it always be suffering in the hands of a Holy God.