Bad things happen. Sometimes the bad things that happen are simply consequences of sinful deeds we’ve committed. Other times the bad things have nothing directly to do with our sin or folly, but is because of the evil of another. And then there are bad things that happen simply because we are living in a sin-cursed world where bad things now happen rather frequently. After the initial hurt and despair, we tend to ask “Why?!”. “Why has this particular trial happened to me?”
The Lord doesn’t give us that level of specificity when telling us why bad things happen. He has revealed the many different possible answers, but does not give us an answer for each specific trial for each specific individual. He wants us to know how He deals with mankind so we do not despair, but at the same time leaves some details unrevealed so we will grow in our faith in Him and our obedience to what has been revealed.
Sometimes the reason for suffering is because God is putting the Devil back in his place and using us as evidence against the devil (that is the case with Job – Job 1-2). Sometimes we suffer difficulty because God is preparing a show of how He is able to turn great calamity into great good (that is the story of Joseph – Gen 37-50). Other times it is simply for God to show us (Job 38-41) or others (John 9:1-3) that life is about Him, not us and that we need to believe Him and obey Him instead of doubting Him and feeling sorry for ourselves (like Job at the end) or blame others (like the crowd around the blind man of John 9). Then, especially for believers, God uses the misfortunes of life as part of the package of returning our attention to spiritual things and making us more like Jesus in the ways we approach life (Rom 8:28-31 – even death is part of that process, because it announces the time for being ‘glorified’). Occasionally God does use suffering as a punishment for our own sinful heart and as a tool to bring us to Himself (King Nebuchadnezzar – Dan 4:37). And then lastly, God uses suffering, and especially the unknown future, to remind us that we do not know all things, but the things that are revealed to us (Scripture) should be our concern (Deut 29:29 – here is a sermon on it).
With these general answers to “Why?!”, we can stop asking the question, and instead seek the answer to “How will I proceed?” for that has been clearly revealed, and that answers offers more hope than a specific “Why?” answer would give.
let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.Galatians 6:9-10