Why does God let bad things happen to good people? If you’re asking this question, you’ve probably had something really awful happen to someone you love. I have. In fact, I stopped believing in my god because of it.
As far as my Christian circle was concerned, my family was as good as any other. I mean, we certainly weren’t perfect, but I didn’t think we were bad people either. And, I thought God only allowed bad things to happen to bad people. Likewise, I thought good people were in the clear.
So, I tried to be good enough for God. I made good grades, mentored other students, and volunteered at my church’s summer programs. I believed if I met God’s standards, He would always answer my prayers. I was wrong.
My mom is a mom’s mom. She was a high school guidance counselor, so she extended patience and compassion to students every day. She was often a student’s sole source of encouragement, and I couldn’t have picked a better role model.
Then, when I was a freshman in high school, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. Wait, what? I thought I could count on my on-demand god to answer my prayers and protect me and my family. I had done my part. What kind of god would allow my mom to get cancer?
By 14 years old, the version of god I believed in had failed me.
I’d hear my mom sobbing behind her bedroom door late at night, crying out to this God who’d grown strange to me. I remember seeing clumps of her hair hit the floor. I started to think I had to choose between a god who never existed or one who wasn’t good after all.
Watching my football-coach dad choke back tears became normal. And I’ll never forget the terror in my little brother’s face as he saw my mom in a hospital bed for the first time.
After weeks of watching my mom suffer through rounds of chemo in a cold, sterile hospital, I had enough. I was done believing in a god who would allow good people like my mom to experience such awful things.
I’m so thankful to tell you my mom fought and beat her cancer. Though at the time, my faith didn’t fare quite as well.
A few years later, a friend invited me to a church that was totally different from any church I’d ever been to, and for some reason, I went. It wasn’t long before I realized the god from my childhood never existed. I discovered God is neither an ultimate guardian angel who shields us from all pain nor a genie who grants good people all their wishes.
I’ve since come to know God as my loving Father who joins me in the face of trials. When my mom was sick, my dad was hurting, my brother was afraid, and I was doubting, He was with us. He’s my Wonderful Counselor who listens to me. He’s my ever-present Savior who experienced ultimate pain to rescue me from eternal death.
I came to know the real God, and despite how many times I rejected Him, He never rejected me.
To believe in a god who only allows good things to happen to good people is to hang the world on our goodness rather than His perfection. That god doesn’t exist, and I’m glad he doesn’t.
Here on Earth, you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world. John 16:33 NLT
If you’ve been holding a grudge against God or have stopped believing in God because bad things happened in your life, guess what? The god who keeps all bad things from happening doesn’t exist. Can I invite you to consider a loving God who may not stop bad things from happening, but who’ll join you in their midst?