The Bible teaches that bad things happen, even to ‘good’ people. Romans 8:28 says that God will work all things together for good, NOT that only good will happen to those who follow him.
In the Old Testament in the book of Job, the Bible teaches us that bad things sometimes happen to even good people. The Bible says of Job in chapter 1:1 “This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil.” Nevertheless on one tragic day he lost his health, his wealth and all his children. Here’s an example of something bad happening to a good person.
Here’s another example from the New Testament. In Acts 14 the apostle Paul is in Lystra on one of his missionary journeys and he heals a man who was crippled and all the people of Lystra concluded that Paul was a god. But then some Jews came along and stirred up trouble and the people changed their mind about Paul and decided to stone him. They did so and left him for dead but miraculously Paul survived. After this incident Paul must have been asked at every church he visited thereafter – what happened man? You love God, you’ve dedicated your life to him – how could God allow this to happen to you. Paul’s answer is recorded in Acts 14:22 where Paul says “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God…” In other words, Paul taught in the New Testament explicitly what Job teaches us in Old Testament teaches implicitly – that being a follower of Jesus is no promise that nothing bad will ever happen to you. Just because we are followers of Jesus (for those of us here that are), doesn’t mean we are exempt from suffering, as many of you know from personal experience.
If you mistakenly think that God has promised a life of ease if you choose to follow him, and then trouble comes, you’ll be disillusioned when it comes, thinking God has broken a promise to you. In Jesus’ parable of the farmer who scattered seeds, he talked about just such a person. In that parable a type of person is mentioned that receives the good news with joy, but when trouble comes, falls away. This is the person who comes to Christ thinking that Jesus is their ticket to a pain free life, but turns away when reality hits – when trouble comes.
While in Israel I met a wonderful woman named Bernie. Four years ago her husband suddenly died (from a stroke). Bernie and her husband were both Christians, as were their two daughters. Bernie was so disillusioned by her husband’s death that in anger she turned away from God, as did her two daughters. Thank God she was on the trip because she had rededicated her life to Lord – I even had the privilege of baptizing her in the Jordan River. But being disillusioned at first by her husband’s sudden death, she turned away from God as if he broke some sort of promise to her that nothing bad would ever happen to her if she served him.
Friends – In John 16:33, [Jesus said] “…In this world you will have trouble.” The good news of Jesus isn’t that he will keep you from all trouble in this world, rather that he has overcome this world, and is preparing a new world, where pain and suffering won’t exist, as they do in this life.
Friends – we surrender our hearts and lives to Jesus because he alone can save us from hell, not because Jesus promises heaven on earth. Come to Jesus to escape eternal judgment, not so your life can be perfect on earth. I hope you’ll decide to become a follower of Jesus today, but I want it to be for the right reasons. Come to Jesus to have your sins forgiven. Come to Jesus to make your peace with God. Come to Jesus for eternal life. But don’t come to Jesus as your ticket to a pain free existence.
The world we live in believes in Karma (if you do good, good will be done to you and if you do bad, bad will be done to you). This is the whole premise of the TV show My Name is Earl. In this show Earl has a list of bad things he’s done that he’s trying to make right so that Karma won’t “get him.” But friends – sorry – this just isn’t how life works. Earl could check every item off his list and still get run over by a bus or die of a heart attack (or whatever). The Bible says that sometimes bad things happen, even to good people, and you need this biblical perspective so that when trouble comes your world doesn’t fall apart.