When Bad Things Happen to Good People

I borrowed today’s title from an award winning book by the same name. Rabbi Harold Kushner wrote the book after the death of their young son.

I have never read the book, but the title has captivated me since the book first came on the market.

The Issue of Suffering

Every minister is confronted with the issue of suffering. From the death of babies to the aged, families suffer the loss of their loved ones.

Intense suffering affects how people think about God.

(1) Some people change their world view as they experience the grief of suffering.

Job’s wife counseled him in their suffering to “curse God, and die” (Job 2.9).

Some people respond to suffering by living in bitterness, anger, and unbelief toward God.

(2) Other people respond to suffering by drawing closer to the comfort of God.

They may not understand why their loved one died or suffered a debilitating illness, but they find their strength in God.

Jesus and Suffering

Jesus responded to the horrific suffering of people with a surprising answer.

— Luke 13.1-5 – At that very time there were some present who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.

He asked them, “Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were worse sinners than all other Galileans?

“No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as they did.

“Or those eighteen who were killed when the tower of Siloam fell on them—do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others living in Jerusalem?

“No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish just as they did.”

What at first may seem like a “cold” response the problem of suffering is actually an important correction to the prevailing understanding of his day.

If you are familiar with the story of Job, you know he had three so-called friends who came to comfort and counsel him in his time of grief.

His friends believed that Job had offended God and that was the reason why all of the calamities fell upon him.

Job defended his righteousness to his friends and to God. At one time, he asked for an umpire to mediate between God and himself (Job 9.33).

In the end, God did not give Job an explanation for his suffering. Instead, God gave Job his presence and that was enough.

Jesus took up the message of the Book of Job and reiterated the truth that suffering is not punishment for sin.

The understanding that we have about suffering in our generation is the result of Jesus’ correction of that mistaken understanding.

What About Repentance?

After Jesus corrected the general understanding of suffering, he emphasized the importance of repentance.

The Greek word, “to repent,” is a compound word. “Meta” means “to change.” “Noia” means “mind.”

Repentance literally means “to change your mind.” As we change our minds, our behavior follows.

If you have been following the crowd in Luke, you know that the crowd was comprised of people with many different views toward Jesus. They are:

— Devoted followers who were traveling with Jesus from Galilee to Jerusalem.

— Opponents who resisted God’s agenda through Jesus.

— The undecided, who were still making up their minds about him.

— Grifters, who wanted to see signs and receive more benefits from him.

Jesus’ challenge both then and now is to change our mind about who he is. He calls us to fully trust him.

Henry Blackaby describes the kind of life that is necessary. “You can’t go where Jesus is and stay where you are,” he writes.

YouTube Video

Rudy Ross and I have a YouTube video on this passage. Rudy adds many insights that you will find helpful for your life with Jesus.

The videos are on the Bob Spradling YouTube channel.

If you have a prayer request, please email me at bsprad49@gmail.com or private message me on Facebook. The Maywood prayer team will pray for you.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s