Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good Christians? It’s the Wrong Question


Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you. 

Jesus, I belong to you.

I lift up my heart to you.
I set my mind on you.
I fix my eyes on you.
I offer my body to you as a living sacrifice.

Jesus, we belong to you. 

Praying in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, amen. 

Acts 5:17–26 (NIV)

Then the high priest and all his associates, who were members of the party of the Sadducees, were filled with jealousy. They arrested the apostles and put them in the public jail. But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail and brought them out. “Go, stand in the temple courts,” he said, “and tell the people all about this new life.”

At daybreak they entered the temple courts, as they had been told, and began to teach the people.

When the high priest and his associates arrived, they called together the Sanhedrin—the full assembly of the elders of Israel—and sent to the jail for the apostles. But on arriving at the jail, the officers did not find them there. So they went back and reported, “We found the jail securely locked, with the guards standing at the doors; but when we opened them, we found no one inside.” On hearing this report, the captain of the temple guard and the chief priests were at a loss, wondering what this might lead to.

Then someone came and said, “Look! The men you put in jail are standing in the temple courts teaching the people.” At that, the captain went with his officers and brought the apostles. They did not use force, because they feared that the people would stone them.


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Let’s begin today in the spirit of some good old fashioned catechesis.

QUESTION: “If God is for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31
ANSWER: A lot of people, powers, principalities, and pain can come against us.

QUESTION: Will the opposition ultimately win?
ANSWER: Not a chance!

QUESTION: Can they inflict unbearable pain on us in the meantime?
ANSWER: You better believe it.

As things heat up in Jerusalem we are going to start seeing some bad things happening to good Christians. The outcomes will vary. In this particular instance, it miraculously worked out for the apostles as an angel sprang them from jail. As we turn the page into chapter 6 we will witness our first martyr.

But notice as we go along that no one seems to be asking the perennial question of our time, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” Do you know why the Bible does not answer the question, “Why do bad things happen to good people?”

Because the Bible is simply not asking that question. Neither were the early Christians asking that question. The early Christians were not philosophizing about sin, death, and evil. They were fighting it with everything they had. At times an angel would spring them out of jail at midnight. At other times they would take rocks to the face until the bitter end.

The gospel promises that we will win the war, but it almost guarantees we will lose quite a few battles along the way. The true sign of prosperity is not success in all things, it is endurance despite all things. We are not talking about a “grit your teeth and grind it out” endurance born of human effort. Where the Holy Spirit is involved, it often looks like joyful painstaking perseverance.

Fast forward to the present day. At times the enemy will look like a mentally ill assassin in an elementary school. At other times the enemy will take on the form of stage 3 cancer for an eighteen-year-old. Sometimes the police will get there first and save the masses from bloodshed. Sometimes the miracle will happen. Other times the chemo will work. Sometimes the scourge of cancer wins. Many of you are facing such situations right now. It’s not a matter of having enough faith to have your prayers answered. It’s the fact that we live on a battlefield. We live in the age of the Holy Spirit and yet still the present evil age rages on. 

The gospel does not guarantee a get-out-of-jail-free card, though at times, as a bonus of encouragement for believers, it will miraculously happen. We can rejoice when it does, but we must remember, the mission is not contingent on the miracle. After all, where does the angel send the apostles after delivering them? Yes, right back into the fray, where they will be arrested again. And lest we need to be put on notice—it is not going to end well for any of them. 

If the suffering of Christians designs to convey any particular message, it is this: Jesus plays the long game and takes the long view. The gospel nowhere says terrible things will not happen to good Christians. It actually says this:

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom. 8:37–39)

Why do you think we spend so much time in the modern age trying to figure out and explain why bad things happen to good people? Why do you think they didn’t focus on this issue in the apostolic age?


Lord Jesus, I am your witness. 

I receive your righteousness and release my sinfulness.
I receive your wholeness and release my brokenness.
I receive your fullness and release my emptiness.
I receive your peace and release my anxiety.
I receive your joy and release my despair.
I receive your healing and release my sickness. 
I receive your love and release my selfishness. 
I receive the fellowship of sharing in your sufferings and release my sense of entitlement to a suffering free life.

Come Holy Spirit transform my heart, mind, soul, and strength so that my consecration becomes your demonstration; that our lives become your sanctuary. For the glory of God our Father, amen. 


REPEATING: Why do you think we spend so much time in the modern age trying to figure out and explain why bad things happen to good people? Why do you think they didn’t focus on this issue in the apostolic age? Journal out how you are personally dealing with the bad things that have happened or are happening in your life and those you love. 


Today let’s sing a song by which the Spirit will minister healing comfort and grace to so many of us in need just now. Think of those you know and as we sing we will sing out to them too. The hymn is “Be Still, My Soul.”  It is hymn 346 in our Seedbed hymnal, Our Great Redeemer’s Praise.

For the Awakening,
J. D. Walt

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WHAT IS THIS? Wake-Up Call is a daily encouragement to shake off the slumber of our busy lives and turn our eyes toward Jesus. Each morning our community gathers around a Scripture, a reflection, a prayer, and a few short questions, inviting us to reorient our lives around the love of Jesus that transforms our hearts, homes, churches, and cities.

Comments and Discussion

5 Responses

  1. I think another question is, “Why do Christians still do bad things?”

    James 1:13-14
    13 No one undergoing a trial should say, “I am being tempted by God.” For God is not tempted by evil,[a] and He Himself doesn’t tempt anyone. 14 But each person is tempted when he is drawn away and enticed by his own evil desires.

    Obviously, we can’t cancel desire. Desire is connected to free will- our power to choose.
    How do we stop being enticed by our evil desires?
    We choose not to let temptation draw us away.
    We, instead, draw near to God.
    We change our desire’s direction from sin to Him!
    We desire Jesus more than any temptation thrown our way.

    James 4:8a
    Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.

    Staying 💪’n Christ
    Ephesians 6:10
    Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.

  2. Life focus or knowledge focus?

    People who eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil question God’s word and doubt their faith when they don’t understand why bad things happen. People who eat from the tree of life actually rely on and depend on God and His word throughout the day and want to faithfully stand no matter what happens.

  3. Why do bad things happen to good people? Even if this was an appropriate question, the answer would be: Why not? Only God is good! IMHO, both the question and the struggle to find the answer are the result of some flawed theology that dates back to the time of Christ: As he went along, he saw a man born blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” (John 9:1-2) In addition to that, add, despite the fact that we are told that we believers will face trials and troubles in this world, some of us still are under the delusion that because America is a “Christian nation”, we shouldn’t anticipate any type of oppression for our faith.

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