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Thought this was an interesting perspective. What do you think?

34 Responses to “Flipping The Script: Why Do Bad Things Happen?”

  1. on 25 Aug 2009 at 9:27 amSean

    Ah yes, the classic Reformed response to the Problem of Evil. It has great apologetic value but little pastoral use. I first encountered this when I read The Holiness of God by Dr. R. C. Sproul. Essentially the response to the classic question, “Why do bad things happen to good people,” is that “there are no good people and the real question to be asked is why God hasn’t killed you yet.” Of course, there is some truth to looking at things like this and it may even be a preferred approach to respond to a cavalier college grad who is merely trying to stump you with the riddle, but it fails miserably when we are asked by Ms. X in the church why her child was born with autism, or Mr. Y whose 5 year-old son just got hit by a car while chasing a ball. For them the question, “Why does God allow so much pain and suffering,” isn’t some philosophical challenge to be argued out using p’s and q’s with pencil and paper. No, for them it is a serious problem that involves real emotions. I think in a time like that the response needs to be something like: “I don’t know why God didn’t intervene to stop this evil but I do know that one day he will set all things right.” The hope of humankind is that Jesus will return, resurrect the righteous, and fix up this wicked world when he establishes his Father’s kingdom.

  2. on 25 Aug 2009 at 11:14 amVictor

    Sean, excellent observation. Do you think it is viable to say that perhaps there is a different answer to the question being asked based on who is asking?

  3. on 25 Aug 2009 at 11:24 amSean

    I think the holiness-of-God approach works well in certain circumstances but that approach is not comprehensive enough for all circumstances because it doesn’t answer why bad things happen to children and babies or why tragedy strikes Christians who have been regenerated. I don’t know…it’s complicated and the gentleman in the video made it seem really simple (not that I didn’t enjoy his presentation). BTW, I have four semesters of philosophy class 😉

  4. on 25 Aug 2009 at 2:49 pmRay

    I think the answer that we don’t know but we know that God will
    make everything right is a good one. Sometimes people will use their tragedy to lead another away from godly fear if we will let them. It’s then that I think they haven’t suffered enough.

    It all depends on how many words against God come out of their
    mouth. Every tree is known by it’s fruit.

    Job 34:36
    My desire is that Job may be tried unto the end because of his answers for wicked men.

    Elihu took notice that none of his 3 friends held Job accountable for
    his words against God, nor were they strong in his message of grace while at the same time making his sins known to him. (see Job 33:24-32. This is about justification by faith)

    Jobs 3 friends let the words against God go right on by without being addressed and connected with the good news of the day.
    They didn’t seem to be watching what was going on presently right
    under their nose. They should have seen it and clearly made it known, something they did not do, though they were full of good advice and knew a lot about God’s ways with men.

    Job did make a big noise about how he was just and how God had
    taken away his judgment,( not seeing his own sins). This then was
    an attempt to make God appear as the sinnner, a thing to be repented of.

    I see the video is now downloaded so I can watch it. There’s so much that’s answered about this subject in the book of Job. I’m sure there are other places to go too.

    This was a good message on video.

    How many people have read the book of Job but have never been willing to admit that the holy spirit told them that there was something very wrong with what Job did continually in the sacrifices
    for his children? Wasn’t it sacrilege? Satan was behind it to be certain, and don’t expect him to admit it. God knew what he had been up to. Some things God doesn’t explain to us in black and white because he wants us to learn to hear the voice of his spirit
    and also to learn to discern and receive wisdom.

    Job was one who had received much, and so, much also was required. It’s a good book to study, and study well.

    We need to remember God’s grace. This man’s message helps bring us to that remberance. It helps bring us to humility which will
    protect us. His message helps bring us to a most valuable gift, the fear of the Lord which is the beginning of all good things, without
    which we have often become quite lost, not knowing our way, not
    knowing the way we go, walking in darkness rather than in the light.

  5. on 25 Aug 2009 at 3:16 pmWolfgang

    Hi Victor,

    you ask what I think about the presentation? To me the preacher appears to be rather arrogant … sort of like many TV preachers I have seen in the past.

    His talk is rather confusing … BUT then, maybe I am already too old to try and follow such a type of emotion oriented “theological talk” which seems more philosophical than the folks about whom he makes sort of derogatory remarks …


  6. on 25 Aug 2009 at 3:30 pmRay

    If anyone comes to me with such a question as “Why do bad things
    happen to good people?” or something similar, I think I should ask
    them if they have read the book of Job, and if they haven’t then I should make myself available to them to help them with any question they may have about it, being willing to lead them through
    whatever trouble they have while going through it. If they haven’t read it, I think I should refer them to it.

    The old saying seems to go “Misery loves company.” If they are suffering they may go to the book, but if they have no intention of
    suffering, they may not want to read it. The call still goes out, “Come and suffer.”

  7. on 26 Aug 2009 at 2:45 amXavier

    i remember my philosophy paper was based on Descartes diseration…awful stuff, hurt my brain.

    but then again, orthodox christianity is philosophy, just look at their doctrines [Trinity, Hell etc].

  8. on 26 Aug 2009 at 2:59 amWolfgang

    As for finding the answer to the question “Why do bad things happen to good people?”, perhaps one should ask another question: “Why do good things happen to bad people?”

    Seldom would one hear bad people ask the question about why good things happen to them …. more often it seems good people (or those who assume and consider themselves to be in that category) are asking why bad things happen to them. Fact is, that what people would consider to be good things and what people consider to be bad things happen to all people … thus, perhaps whether or not someone thinks of themselves as “good” or “bad” has nothing to do with what might happen in their lives ?

    And the real issue is about how one deals with what does happen, whether it is light or heavy, light or dark, good or bad ?

  9. on 26 Aug 2009 at 7:21 amVictor

    Wolfgang, interesting perspective you’ve just shared. Certainly at man’s core is selfishness – why ask any questions when “good” happens? Who cares! It is not until “bad” happens that people begin to wonder “why did this happen to me.” Most men will declare themselves to be “good/better than the next guy” and this is the core of the problem.

    At times it is the “bad” that gets people to wonder why the world is as it is – some will have humility to consider that God exists based on the lack of stability in the time we live – others however will use this as an occasion to be displeased with their Creator or even go as fas as to deny God altogether.

    However, this whole question is important for those of us who are committed to being a light to the nations – sometimes we can provide an answer to the question of why bad is happening in a world if God exists (etc)., sometimes we can help put perspective on things, sometimes we can just join in the misery of those who have suffered, whatever the response we have – certainly being ignorant to this questions – one which pagans and Christians alike ask – would be foolish.

  10. on 28 Aug 2009 at 1:35 amMark C.

    Theology and philosophy are of no use when you’re dealing with people’s hearts.

    My brother has been active and healthy for many years. Today he was riding his bike and a deer jumped in front of him, and he was killed. That is so mindbogglingly bizarre I can barely put it into words. My sister kept saying, “How can a loving God allow that?” And frankly I had no answer. I used to think I did, but none of the packaged answers I learned over the years come close to being helpful or comforting at a time like this.

    Yes God is sovereign but how does that heal a heart?

  11. on 28 Aug 2009 at 7:06 amWolfgang

    Mark C.,

    very sorry to hear about your brother and the loss you experienced today …

    It seems to me that for believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, the comforting truth in such situation would be that this earthly life is not the end of all, but rather that a change and eternal life have been made available to believers in Christ.

    In regards to your note and the topic of this blog, I wonder if the question your sister (as many people) asks is in itself already an incorrect question. The question “How can a living God allow that?” in itself already implies and assumes that God is somehow directly involved and responsible in everything that happens … which, however, is quite obviously not the case.


  12. on 28 Aug 2009 at 10:28 amSean


    I am grieved at your loss. If there is anything I can do to help you and your family at this time please email me.

  13. on 29 Aug 2009 at 6:26 amRandy

    When the news came to Adam and Eve that their son Abel had been slain by Cain, do we see any record of their whining to the Lord “oh how could you have let this happen.? When God instructed Abraham to take his son, his only son and offer him as a sacrifice, is there a record of Abraham whining or crying in pity, “Oh Lord, why? Why is this happening to me?” Clearly we read of the Israelites doing so as they journeyed from being slaves in Egypt to a land flowing with milk and honey. If they had not fallen into despair so quickly their journey would have been a mere few months. More than likely because of their lack of faith and belief in the Living God, because of their ever present whining, they even tried the patience of the world’s meekest man to the point he disobeyed God and didn’t journey into the promised land.

    I write this to advocate perhaps as then and now, we are men and women who lack faith. Also we lack the wisdom that we are the created. Who are we to say to the Creator, why is this thus and so. It would appear that the early fathers and called of God knew that life was indeed life. They knew there is a Satan running to and fro on this earth causing grief and despair in every way he can so that those who have faith in the Creator will lose that faith and “join his team.”

    This is not having a fatalistic mindset. This is living with the faith and knowledge that we are living in a fallen world. That in this life there is good as well as bad which will befall us. Through both, we should be mindful there is indeed a God Who was, is, and will forever be. The journey we call life will be filled with moments of gladness, moments of sorrow, and moments of tragic grief. Through it all, the good and bad, God still is. The early fathers and many who followed looked forward to the day of the coming of the Promised Messiah. We should look forward expectantly to the promised return of the same Messiah regardless of what we encounter in this world. “The just shall live by faith….”

  14. on 29 Aug 2009 at 11:03 amMark C.


    Abraham had faith that God would bring to pass His promise of a multitude of descendants, even if it meant raising Isaac from the dead. He wasn’t left wondering what was going on, and the angel stopped him before his son died. So it isn’t really a comparable situation.

    As for Adam and Eve, just because there is no record of them crying to God about Abel doesn’t mean they didn’t. They were human. They had hearts that were hurting at that time. And if you don’t think even men of God felt that way at times, you should reread the Psalms (and Job as well).

    Knowing we live in a fallen world is one thing, but when the insanity of life hits you where you live, it becomes more personal, and all the knowledge in the world doesn’t make it hurt any less. And while we may have the hope to keep us going, being able to comfort someone who doesn’t know that hope is not so simple. You try telling someone that lost a loved one that they’re just whining and need to have more faith.

  15. on 29 Aug 2009 at 3:03 pmRandy

    Mark C.
    My apology, didn’t mean to be so unkind. Wasn’t my intent. True as you stated, they probably did weep with deep emotion at the loss of a loved one and even at the evil and wickedness of the world. Perhaps whining was the wrong word to use and I stand corrected, admonished in kindness, and offer my sympathies at your loss.

  16. on 29 Aug 2009 at 10:39 pmRay

    If this will help, I remember hearing from a man who was taken
    to heaven upon his death and he did not want to come back. Heaven was so wonderful. If anything comes to mind that you wish
    you could tell your brother or wished you had told him, please remember that God will hear it and you can ask him to relay the message. God has taken away many burdens from my heart that way, though I must still live with the loss. God helps me with that too.

  17. on 30 Aug 2009 at 4:28 amWolfgang

    Hi Victor,

    you commented

    However, this whole question is important for those of us who are committed to being a light to the nations – sometimes we can provide an answer to the question of why bad is happening in a world if God exists (etc)., sometimes we can help put perspective on things, sometimes we can just join in the misery of those who have suffered, whatever the response we have – certainly being ignorant to this questions – one which pagans and Christians alike ask – would be foolish.

    so then sometimes you have an answer “why bad is happening in a world if God exists( etc.)”, but sometimes you don’t? what is the difference between such situations where you know and where you don’t? furthermore, do you really have an answer or is it just an answer regarding the “symptom” but not really regarding the “cause” (such as a man commit murder, and the answer is “because this guy was bad and commited a crime”, which answers why someone was murdered, but it really doesn’t answer necessarily the further questions folks may have)?

    Now, we can easily observe that good and bad happens to good and bad people … and such has been the case ever since the beginnings of mankind, not just in our day and time. We also can observe that certain things are causes while other things are subsequent consequences of causes … but not all things are consequences or causes. Is God somehow involved in the sense that He carries responsibility in all such things / in everything that happens?

    It seems to me, that the basic mistake leading to such questions involving God in the picture is that they are based on an assumption and assumed ideas regarding “God’s sovereignty” or “God’s involvement”in everything that happens …


  18. on 30 Aug 2009 at 1:09 pmRay

    Sometimes I’ve expected God to move on my behalf because my cause was just, having been covered by the blood of Christ when
    other men have refused to repent.

    I wondered what God wanted me to do, to accept their unrighteous
    judgment against me simply because they have the power to do so, or to push my cause futher.

    I decided to accept the unrighteous judgment of men against me
    for perhaps such is the judgment of my righteous God.

    God will not be used by men. If I have lived and sinned against him
    though I have repented, and asked for his help, what of the years
    I spent contrary to him? Or, maybe this suffering is for my perfection. One thing I know is that God will make it right in the end.

    It’s been said that those who will not be ruled by God are destined
    to be ruled by tyranny.

    Maybe my pain must exceed the collective pain of those who need
    to come to an understanding of their sins. If that is so, my pain must needs be great and for a long time, for their sins have been many and great. To come to an understanding of them can be a
    painful thing.

    I know his judgment is coming.

    One man can not change a system, so he suffers outside the gate.

    Some men may be ruled by tyranny and it will take time for them
    to become free. Sadly, some men may choose to live their whole lives under tyranny or sin.

    Evil happens in this world because of sin. Before sin came it wasn’t so. I do believe God allows evil to happen for our perfection.

  19. on 30 Aug 2009 at 10:12 pmrobert

    I wonder how the families of the 70 thousand that died because of David not believing in God’s power would phrase or answer that question. I am sure that it required for them to believe that God was Just for them to continue serving God. Did they believe that God was wrong and would come to his senses to make it right.
    Does man have the right to judge God or should we take the discipline of a Just and True Father and not question why

  20. on 30 Aug 2009 at 10:44 pmRay

    I suppose those that ask for a king must live under the actions of
    the king and suffer or benefit from his works. Faith in God can save
    a man from a plague, and many good men may die from a plague.
    God made things right when for sin and the death that came because of it, he raised up Jesus who for sin became an acceptable offering, even for the sins of the whole world.
    Jesus took away every conceivable agument or excuse man can
    imagine against God who is just, and he will continue to do so.
    To stand against the wiles of the devil we are required to put on
    the armor that God has given us.

  21. on 30 Aug 2009 at 10:59 pmrobert

    Again i ask if man can judge God. there was nothing that God has ever done that he needed to made right.
    should God answer to man to show his purpose in his plans or should we have faith that He was always and is still Just. Jesus did not make God right, he just served His purpose in a much bigger plan for God to accomplish what he set out to do from the beginning.
    Jesus will rule Us ,but God will always rule Him and all His creation

  22. on 31 Aug 2009 at 7:30 amRay

    You say that there was nothing that God has ever done that he needed to make right. It’s true that God has never sinned and that
    all he does is good and right, that his judgment is always just, and
    that he never makes mistakes.

    So why do you ask if a man can judge God?

    Have you never read Job?

  23. on 31 Aug 2009 at 8:15 amrobert

    i never asked if “a” man could judge God, but if you say a man has then show me the judgement and where this man disciplined God for his actions.
    you have a weak understanding of what you read

  24. on 31 Aug 2009 at 12:01 pmRay

    Are you saying that “men” can judge God and put him under their

    That’s just plain crazy.

  25. on 31 Aug 2009 at 12:14 pmrobert

    No Ray
    where you read in the crazy things you say I am totally baffled.

  26. on 31 Aug 2009 at 12:45 pmRay


    When a man makes such a point for example that ” ONE Tiny hole
    in the hull of a boat can’t cause it to sink.”, he seems to me to be
    saying or suggesting, or at the very least, to cause another to wonder if he is saying that many large holes in a hull may sink a

    Now look at what you said in post 23. Do you begin to understand
    why people do not understand you? You often seem to suggest things which are not, then act as if you can not understand why
    they would think such things.

    The good news is that when we repent of our ways that are not
    right in God’s sight, the blood of Jesus will cleanse us of those things. We are then forgiven and may go on rejoicing in him that
    the old things of the past are gone and we find our liberty in him
    who took the burden of sin away for his purposes in God that we
    might live unto him in righteousness and truth, walking honestly
    and sincerely as in the day.

  27. on 31 Aug 2009 at 12:57 pmrobert

    I understand that some things i say are confusing, but this was not even close to one of thoses things. this doesnt relect on my inability to be clear for those of weaker understanding then myself. i suck as a slick talking preacher.
    this one is on you

  28. on 31 Aug 2009 at 2:08 pmRay

    Put me on the list of those who see you as a contradiction, as a man that opposes himself, whether that list be long or short.

  29. on 31 Aug 2009 at 2:24 pmrobert

    The claim of contradiction is only an excuse for a poor ability to understand. i would put you on that list if it was caused by me but if you look hard at yourself you will find that you put yourself on a list that existed already. what i write is not all you have a weak understanding of, you also have the subject being wrote about which by what you write defines your weak understanding.
    I have prayed for you to recieve a better understanding but now realize its up to you.

  30. on 31 Aug 2009 at 3:12 pmRay

    You confess that I have a poor ability to understand. Could that
    be evidence that I do not understand you? If so, put me on that list of those who do not understand you.

    Whether the fault is with me or you, put me on that list. Understand that I do not understand you and that therefore I see you as a contradiction. I see you as a man that opposes himself.

    We are saved by grace, not by grace and works. We are saved by
    faith, and faith without works is dead. Grace however is very much alive without our works and has the power to save us by the works
    of Jesus Christ, through faith. We can not offer our works as payment for our salvation. We may offer our works as evidence of God’s grace working within us, but we can not be saved by offering the works to God for salvation.

  31. on 31 Aug 2009 at 3:41 pmRay

    Let’s take the example of Noah.

    He was saved from the flood by faith and through it he built an ark.
    It took work for him to build the ark. It didn’t get built without his
    labor, yet in the final judgment, his salvation will be by grace without his works, for even Noah sinned and fell short of the glory of God, a thing that none of his works could atone for, nor could they account for righteousness that would take away those sins.

    Sins are like a record kept in a book, that if one would thereafter
    never sin again, he still owes the debt of the sin. No keeping of the
    law of God could ever make up for that debt, for it still remains, and
    without the payment by grace it would never be covered. It can only be covered by the blood of Christ. That is by the saving grace
    of God, not of any works that a man might be able to boast of, unless he boast of the works of Christ that is able to save him.
    Then his boasting is not in himself but in God through faith in his
    word by the Lord Jesus. We are brought unto such glory of God in
    Christ by grace, not works.

  32. on 31 Aug 2009 at 3:49 pmrobert

    if i was the only one or thing you show a poor ability to understand then i would plede guilty as charged.
    there was nothing confusing in what i wrote, it was you on your own accord who started replacing my words with your own. it was your words that confused yourself.
    this whole conversation was needless and wouldnt of happened without your effert to confuse yourself.
    i admitt that i can be confusing to some, but in this case it didnt exist to the slightest.
    and for the last last time i hope, i have never claimed salvation by works alone. grace is the gift of the chance to be saved so therefore it comes first ,then faith in who you will be saved by, then those who are saved ,by works will show that the gift is accepted and your faith will be kept alive by works only, which is how children of God show they love God. those that love God will follow His Commandments Just like JESUS DID

  33. on 31 Aug 2009 at 5:05 pmRay

    Our faith is not kept alive by our works only but is kept alive by the anointing of Christ. Satan tries to put out that fire with water, but
    Jesus pours on the oil that keeps it burning. It can not be kept alive by our works only as you profess. It’s simply not true.

  34. on 03 Sep 2009 at 10:38 amstacey

    I have asked this question so many times I lost track, most recently as a new reformed woman in Christ some aweful things have been happening to me and my daughter well I cant say aweful but it has been extremely difficult to deal with and I asked this very question why is it that I am a Christian and I am following God’s word and raising my daughter in the same manner that these bad things are happening and why is it that all the horrible things that happened to me when I was a young child if God is so loving? Why why why… Well we all have to remember that there is a devil and he is the God of this age and Christian or not he is in control of the world right now… God gave everyone free will the will to do his word OR the will to follow the devil…so no matter what you decide to follow as long as the devil is in control down here there are many people that follow him so bad things are going to happen until the day Christ comes back there is nothing we can do about that WELL … HOWEVER…the bad things that happen as Christians could be a lot worse as non-Christians and also Christians get attacked more so by the devil that is what he wants to do make people turn from God because there are many Christians that are not rooted in the word or grounded and when the devil attacks they fall easily away from God (THAT IS THE DEVILS HOLE PURPOSE FOR EVERYTHING) think about it if someone is evil the devil already has that person so he doesnt need to do anything because he already has that person in control it’s the person that is doing God’s will that he wants to take away from God it is definitly a spiritual battle we have to remember this and no matter what happens in our lives what God has to offer is much much much better than anything we even know now we have to stay firmly planted in God’s word no matter what or the ending WILL BE WORSE THAN ANYTHING YOU CAN EVEN IMAGINE. This is how we as Christians can get through these hard times knowing the Kingdom is Coming!!!!! and it is going to be glorious and we are going to see God face to face…nothing in this world is worth loosing that and burning in a lake of fire forever!!!!!


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