Why do bad things happen to good people?
Some of my friends and family have experienced some bad things, like disease, divorce, or death. And they are all good people. Why would God put them through that if they have done nothing wrong?
Watching people you care about experiencing hurt and pain can sometimes be worse than going through the hurt yourself. A lot of people have and will have the same question as you, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” It’s very difficult to understand how a God who loves us so much allows us to experience pain. To be honest, we don’t know that there is a perfect explanation available. By definition, we believe that God is perfect, infinite and all knowing, so therefore we as imperfect humans can’t begin to comprehend all that God does.
One of the things that we can think about when we think about human suffering – either our own or that of someone we care about – is how Jesus suffered for us. Something powerful happens to our hearts when in the midst of suffering we look at the Crucifix. Our suffering, when united to His, can give us a glimpse into His Heart and draw us closer to God. It is an opportunity for us to trust God, as the scripture says “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6). God asks us to trust at all times, not just when we’re in a good place.
That being said, we don’t believe that God likes to see us hurt. We think He hurts and weeps right along with us, but sometimes the pain we go through has a greater purpose, something we can’t understand at the time and may in fact never understand.
Something that is helpful to us is to look at all the blessings God has given us. Because we are all sinners, and even the best of us has fallen short, what we deserve is far less than the many blessings we receive. We find that when we focus on all that is good, then even in the worst of situations there is good to be found, and we are comforted.
We realize this isn’t exactly an answer, but we hope it is helpful.
And we hope you don’t mind if we point you to a couple of resources that might really help as you explore this difficult question.
1) A Jewish Rabbi named Harold Kushner wrote a book called “When Bad Things Happen to Good People” which many people have found to be extremely helpful. We are sure you could find it at any local library.
2) The book of Job in the Old Testament explores this same problem; we would encourage you to read it. Job was a good man, and he ended up losing everything dear to him. Interestingly, at the end there is no direct answer to Job from God, only God challenging Job to look at God’s majesty…
3) Our previous Pope, John Paul II, wrote a great Apostolic Letter on “The Christian Meaning of Human Suffering” which we have read and which you can find by clicking on the link – it is a detailed article, but it is the best thing we have ever read on the topic, and offers a very unique and powerful Catholic/Christian approach the problem of human suffering. We love it because it calls us to reflect on our suffering in light of the sufferings of Jesus…and as Catholic Christians we believe that Jesus is “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6) and therefore can help us find meaning even in the most difficult of times.
4) And, finally, check out this great talk on suffering from our friend, Fr. Mike Schmitz.