Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?

Bad things do happen; how I respond to them defines my character and the quality of my life. ~ Walter Anderson

It’s a common question: Why do bad things happen to good people? I watch the news with a broken heart as one gut wrenching trauma replaces another like a slideshow, clicking from disaster to disaster.

I watch and pray and, if I’m honest, there’s a small part of me that’s relieved that this time it didn’t happen to my family or my friends, or to me. Not this time. But something will, sometime, because bad things happen to good people.

There’s a second question: Why do good things happen to bad people? Where the first question saddens, the second challenges. It’s easier for me to grieve for the sorrows of the good than to be glad for the blessings of the bad.

When I focus on experience and expectations, rather than the exegesis, both questions have the same answer. Life here, on this side of heaven, isn’t fair. Thank God it isn’t!

An eye for an eye, that’s fair, but there’s nothing fair about turning the other cheek. There’s nothing fair about forgiving 70 x 7. Maybe the injustice of it is why it’s so hard?

The fact that good and virtuous traits like turning the other cheek don’t come naturally to me, leads me to ask a third question. Am I really a very good person who occasionally experiences bad things or am I a very flawed person who often experiences undeserved blessings? The sick don’t need a doctor. The good don’t need grace because grace, by its nature and definition, is entirely unfair and unmerited. I need grace, daily grace, so there’s the answer.

Jesus was direct: … love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who insult you and persecute you.

Bad things happen.Β Love, bless, do good and pray (for the good people and for the bad people). Those are the responses that will define my character and my quality of life.

Author: Debbie

A former counselor and public speaker, I'm grateful for many, many things - God's grace most of all!

32 thoughts on “Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?”

  1. Hi there, You’ve done an incredible job. I will certainly
    digg it and personally recommend to my friends.
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  2. I missed this one. It is no coincidence that I found it. I was looking for the photos of my Walter Anderson pottery and there you were…
    I am always wondering why bad things happen to good people. It is hard for me to wish them well. I put then out of my world….they don’t exist….it works sometimes but not with the awful atrocities that happen. I cannot put them out of my world; I do not have to like them to pray for them. I cannot judge them because that is not my role either. None of this makes much sense, but there you are. What a conundrum?

  3. Man I have a long way to go. Thank goodness there are people like you in this world my friend.I pray my character will not be based on my perfection. I am far from this goodness. I do practice these principles though, but it is a shining horizon to me; not completely attainable.

      1. Congrats on your blogger award! I don’t know what it is, but you are deserving of all good things. πŸ™‚ ❀

    1. Hello KT!
      We’re all equally in need of grace, right?
      I’m thankful that the Giver of all good things gives grace beyond measure or merit!

  4. Thank you, gracious one, for the truth of this and for making me think about grace going both ways. There is someone close to me, who hurts my heart quite often, but seems to always be blessed, to come through everything smelling like a rose. When I get upset about it, and take it to God . . I realize that I don’t really want anything bad to happen to them, so I end up just loving, blessing, doing the good I know how to do and praying. πŸ™‚
    love you and God bless you!

  5. this is interesting timing to me. pertains to some of the craziness going on in my head. will you email me so i can email you back?

  6. Hi Debbie, Long time no see! πŸ™‚

    You have a unique and insightful way of stating things that makes one think.
    I struggle with this very thing often enough, but one thought always comes back to me…what about all of my unjust and and unfair actions and thoughts before God, Who paid for all of it with His life. How fair is that?

    God bless sis

    1. Hey there, Greg!
      It has been a while! πŸ˜€
      I probably could have simply written there are no good people and left it at that.
      We tend to see people in terms of good and better, or not so good and even worse.
      But, as you said, God knows our thoughts…
      That levels the playing field in ways I don’t think we very much care to see.

  7. Ah yes Debbie. Without grace I can only imagine where I’d be.
    I’m glad Jesus was direct. Whom but Him, the author of grace would
    know what is best for us from all sides.
    Grace is unfair in human eyes but it is a life giving gift in both directions.
    Receiving and giving. May I as well give grace to myself. I know that may sound selfish but there is a whole world out there deep in the struggle of self

    Thank you.

    1. Hello Cathy!
      Yes, my friend, you’re right – it’s hard to give what we don’t ‘get’!
      Living a life of grace requires appropriation, not just acknowledgement.
      Good point. Thank you!

  8. Always a good, true and honest word for us, Debbie. Most of my unhappiness as I went through life was about “injustice”–and I admit I still have a strong bent toward fairness (Libra scales), can pitch a fit when justice gets banged up (‘specially, regarding those closest to my heart). But am I glad God shows me Mercy and Grace, rather than fair and deserving justice–yeah boy, y’all!! God bless you Big–love, sis Caddo

    1. dear C-J (more and more letters!)
      Isn’t it interesting how great “justice” sounds – as long as we can make ourselves the exception! ;D
      Thanking God along with you that He has chosen Mercy and Grace instead!
      (love your new Gravitar!)

      1. Sadly (almost tragically), there were times when I imposed harsh justice on myself–but God intervened every time. He had a better plan (thank You Lord). Glad you like the Gravitar–it’s harder for me to recognize myself, though!!–so I may have to play around when I get a spare moment….what’s that?) Love YOU!

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