Why Bad Things Happen To Good People
Or
Why Good Things Happen To Bad People

By the Late Rabbi Michael Short of Blessed Memory




How many times have you ever said or heard someone else say those words?

Things like
"Why did God allow that to happen to such a Saintly person?", or that person is the one of the most evil people I know and it looks like "God just showers them with blessings."

We all ask the question when anything goes wrong, "God why?" I pay tithes and yet I'm still plagued with debts! I pray for the sick and they become well, but whenever I'm sick and pray it just seems to stay around!

One of the errors that is taught in Christianity and in some cases Judaism is that we are sick or are having problems is because there is SIN in our life. OK so maybe your Church doesn't teach that but I've heard that all my life, well she just has to have sin in her life or he must have sin in his life just look at all the problems he or she are having. If they didn't have sin in their life then God would heal them or God would bless their marriage and they wouldn't be having all those problems, just look at them, what a sorry example they make for believers.

The one thing in a believer's life that I think can block God's blessings is the sin, (sin is not the best word to use here but I can't think of a better one) of unforgiveness. Please remember that I said a believer, we are believers because we have been forgiven of our sins. But if we hold grudges against our brethren, or our family we are allowing the enemy to get the upper hand. I had a Preacher friend that told me about his Mother. She lived a saintly life, she led her children to the Lord, and she was ever faithful in prayer. She did everything we as believers are supposed to do but she could not receive her healing because, as this pastor told me and he believed it, that she held a deep resentment against her husband and would not forgive him. God tells us we are to forgive each other so that He can forgive us, lets look at Matthew chapter 6 in what the church calls the Lord's Prayer but is in fact the Disciples Prayer.

Matthew 6:12-15
12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
14 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:
15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.


When we don't seem to receive from the Lord, we need to look at ourselves and see if we are harboring resentment and unforgiveness and by the action of searching our souls, we will receive a blessing as we are cleaning up the temple. The temple, which is our body in which the Holy Spirit resides.

When "bad" things happen, there are so many possibilities: "Is this a challenge in life that was given to me so I could become an example to inspire others? Or is this to get me to fix a wrong I've done? (correct the unforgiven thing) Or is it due to some outside forces that is affecting me an individual? Or is it simply based on a choice I've made?" What the above means is that we do not know the true reason. But based on God's track record, we trust that He knows what He's doing. And in practice, this knowledge that "God has a reason" goes a long way in helping us cope with suffering.

In Matthew isn't it also written that He makes it rain on the Just and Unjust, also that the sun is to shine on evil and good?

Matthew 5:45
45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.


Who was doing this teaching? None other than the Messiah! He is telling his followers that the Heavenly Father sees everyone in the same light. That he allows blessings and trouble to visit everyone.

Rav Shaul (Apostle Paul) tells us in Romans the real reason that believers have troubles.
Romans 8:27-28
27 And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

Having troubles and tribulations is nothing new for believers, we have plenty examples in the Bible, here are a few. If you look behind the scenes you will see that God always has a way out.

Deuteronomy 4:30
30 When thou art in tribulation, and all these things are come upon thee, even in the latter days, if thou turn to the LORD thy God, and shalt be obedient unto his voice;


Proverbs 26:10
10 The great God that formed all things both rewardeth the fool, and rewardeth transgressors.


John 16:33
33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.


Acts 14:22
22 Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.

Romans 5:3
3 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience;


Romans 8:35
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?


Romans 12:12
12 Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;

Revelation 2:9
9 I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.


What we are dealing with is perceptions and reality. We as people of God are supposed to give thanks for everything.

Ephesians 5:20
20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;

Hebrews 13:15
15 By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.


Let me give you some teachings from a Jewish point of view.

When something goods happens, a Jew is supposed to say, "Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the Universe, Who is good and Who does good."

When tragedy strikes, such as when a loved one dies, they say, "Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the Universe, who is the true Judge."

Presently, some things appear good, such as having a lot of money, enjoying good health, and long life, or bring a new baby into the world. When these things happen we are to bless God for being great. When unpleasant things happen, such as death, severe pain, lack of funds, and things of this type, it seems bad. Anytime tragedy strikes Jews are to state their belief in God by declaring Him as the true Judge. Jews also believe that in the Messianic era they will understand how God makes unpleasant things happen for the positive reasons. They then will say the blessing that He is good and does good over both painful and joyful occurrences, because at that time they believe that they will see clearly how both serve worthwhile purposes. Currently, our perceptions are too clouded by emotions to see a higher purpose in most painful events.

There is a beautiful story that illustrates this:

Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi asked the Almighty to teach him why righteous people suffer and the wicked prosper. One day, Elijah the Prophet appeared to him and agreed to let the rabbi see how he carried out the Lord's will. But Elijah prefaced their sojourn with the admonition: "You will see many things that will upset you and that you won't understand. You can't ask me to explain what I'm doing or you will have to leave me." The rabbi agreed to the stipulation and they went on their way.

First, they met an old, extremely poor couple that lived in a tiny shack. Their main possession was a single cow. Despite their abject poverty and cramped quarters, the couple begged the two men to spend the night, and the men agreed. The next morning, having received the couple's warm hospitality, Elijah prayed that God would kill their cow. As the two men were on their way, the rabbi heard the woman scream pitifully from the yard, "Ay! What will we do? Our cow has died!"

That evening, the rabbi and Elijah came to a sumptuous home and knocked on the door. When no one answered, Elijah said, "Let's go in." Inside, a wealthy man and his wife dined on delicacies, and their servants waited on them. Rather than invite the strangers to join them, the rich man blurted out, "Who let these strangers in? We must be careful to bolt the front door so that people like them don't bother us."

When the guests asked if they might stay the night, the owner reluctantly agreed to let them sleep on a stone bench in the back yard and gave them nothing to eat or drink. The next morning, Elijah prayed that a damaged wall of the man's house, in imminent danger of collapse, should miraculously be repaired. To the rabbi's amazement, the damaged disappeared and the wall looked new in a few moments.

That evening, the men went to a synagogue whose members were very wealthy. Each had his own seat, and strangers didn't dare sit in a members place. So the two newcomers huddled in a back corner, scorned by the few men who even noticed them. They ended up giving the beadle (keeper) of the synagogue some money to buy them bread. None of the members offered the guests hospitality.

As they left the next morning, Elijah prayed, "May it be the Lord's will that all of these people be leaders and important people."

By day's end, they reached another city. The people there treated them royally, fed them delicious food, and kept them company. The next morning, Elijah prayed, "May it be the Lord's will that He grant you only one leader."

Our perception at this point is that whenever some one is good to the travelers, Elijah prays for bad things to happen, but the reality will soon be forth coming, let's get on with the story.

The rabbi could no longer contain himself. "I don't understand you. You pray for bad things to happen to good people and good things to happen to bad people. What are you doing!"? (Sound familiar?)

Elijah replied, "We will have to part company because you broke your promise, but I will explain what I did. The poor man's wife was supposed to die the next day. I prayed that she be spared and that her cow die in her stead. They will suffer for a short time from their loss, but the wife will soon bring home a lot of money and they will live so comfortably that won't miss the cow."

"Under the rich man's collapsing wall was a cache of gold. Had he repaired it, he would have seen the treasure. The wall will soon collapse again, and will be irreparable. By that time, the man will have so many problems, the last thing on his mind will be fixing his house."

"I prayed that the wealthy, selfish snobs in the synagogue should all become leaders. They will always fight with each other because each will want to totally run the town. They will quarrel so much that they will never have any peace."

"I prayed that out last hosts should have only one leader because they will live peacefully with one person they all agree should be in charge."

Elijah continued, "All of this goes to show that you can't judge God's will by what you see. Only He knows if what looks good really is, and if what looks bad really is."

This little story reminds us of how distorted our perceptions can be. Although we believe that God is all-merciful, we don't always feel that way.

Even if we know that He runs the world, we feel that many other forces control our life besides Him. He does not expect us to pretend that a painful experience feels good, but we are to trust Him. When we hurt, we must fall back on a reservoir of faith and state that God is a judge who acts fairly, not deny our emotions and we must continue to proclaim His goodness. This foundation of faith will carry us through many difficult times when God's goodness and presence seems to be hidden from us.

What this means is that the reality of God and our perception of Him may not be equal. He is more here than we sense. In fact, God, for the sake of allowing man to have and use his free-will, allows the world to mask His Being so much so that human beings can even doubt His Existence. Even though, in the end, good always triumphs, the fact that evil can often be successful in the short-run deceives people into believing that even if God is there, He doesn't interfere in the affairs of man.

Although we can't see God's total goodness in these situations we can count on Him being there, one day we as believers will be able to ask the Messiah, just as the rabbi was able to ask Elijah, "Why?" And just as Elijah explained it to the rabbi, the Messiah will explain everything to us!


Remember the woman at the well.

John 4:25
25 The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things.

But for now, we have to accept God's total goodness by faith. After reading this do you still wonder where Paul came up with some of his teachings! No wonder he could say, "All things happen for the good of him that loves the Lord!"

Romans 8:28
28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.


Paul admonishes believers to have faith, remembering that God has a purpose for all things. He tells us that we will have troubles and trials but we are to endure until the end. Paul also tells us that everything is for our sakes.

1 Corinthians 13:7
7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.


2 Corinthians 4:15
15 For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God.

2 Corinthians 9:8
8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:

Ephesians 5:20
20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;

2 Timothy 2:10
10 Therefore I endure all things for the elect's sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.

Peter, tells us that all things will come to an end and that we are to pray; this is the theme that Paul says over and over, we are to pray. Peter also states that everything should be used to glorify God. Instead most believers blame God and seem to glorify the adversary, Ha Satan.

1 Peter 4:7
7 But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.

1 Peter 4:11
11 If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

So let's get back to the original question, why does bad things happen to good people. It appears that whenever something bad happens to us, we are to pray and have faith in God that He will provide us with grace and strength to endure until the end. We are to hope that something will come out of this for our benefit. Remember that God is in control.

Before closing this little note let me admonish you with these words from the Pirke Aboth (the saying of the Fathers)." When thou seest the wicked profit from their evil ways and escape punishment, be not thou tempted to join them in hope of the same immunity. The day of reckoning will come."

B'Seder




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"Thy Word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against Thee. Blessed art Thou, O LORD: teach me Thy statutes. With my lips have I declared all the judgments of thy mouth. I have rejoiced in the way of Thy testimonies, as much as in all riches. I will meditate in Thy precepts, and have respect unto Thy ways. I will delight myself in Thy statutes: I will not forget Thy Word. Deal bountifully with Thy servant, that I may live, and keep Thy Word. Open Thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of Thy Torah." Psalm 119:11-18

Blessed are You O' LORD our God, King over all things...

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