Self pity is probably one of the easiest traps in which to get caught. The thought many times is, “What have I done to deserve this,” or “Why am I being punished,” or “I’m trying to do right but everything seems to go wrong.” Those might be valid questions if humanity had been created by a capricious, vindictive god. That was/is one of the problems with paganism. In that realm the “gods” are always looking for ways to make life difficult for their subjects.
However, those of us who are Christians worship and serve a loving God. He is always seeking what is best for us. It is true that He will one day commit to punishment those who rebel against Him, who refuse to acknowledge His existence, and live their lives contrary to His laws (Romans 1:18). He always wants what is best for us and, if we follow His way, we will receive what is best (cf. Jeremiah 10:23; Mark 10:29-31).
But we still ask, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” Unfortunately, such is simply part of the human condition. Ever since Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit (Genesis 2:17) it has been the lot of humankind to experience physical death. Genesis chapter five lists the descendants of Adam down to the time of Noah. There are ten in all and all but one have the following saying in common, “So all the days of ________ were ______ years; and he died.” The notable exception was Enoch, who lived 365 years, “and he was not, for God took him” (Genesis 5:24). The longest life span recorded is that of Methuselah (969 years) and the shortest, with the exception of Enoch, was that of Lamech, the father of Noah (777 years). Leaving out Enoch, the average life span of the other nine was 912.22 years. To put that in a bit of perspective it has been 531 years since Christopher Columbus sailed from Spain to encounter what was then known as the “New World.” For even more perspective, consider that the Battle of Hastings was fought in England in A.D. 1066, 957 years ago. That battle was won by William of Normandy (also known as William the Conqueror) which led to him being crowned king of England. The present king of England, Charles III, is a direct descendant of William. If born in that year (1066) both Jared and Methuselah would still be alive today (957 and 964 years old, respectively). And yet, they still died. After the Flood lifespans declined dramatically. For example, Abraham lived “only” 175 years. Physical death is, and always has been, part of the human condition (Hebrews 9:27).
But that still does not answer the question, “Why do bad things happen to good people?’ Why does one person get cancer and another does not? Why does the tornado strike on house and not another? Why does one family die in an automobile wreck caused by a drunk driver but the drunk driver walks away uninjured?
I’m not sure these questions can be answered to our satisfaction. Remember the Old Testament story of Joseph. Though favored by his father, he was despised by his brothers. As a result he was sold into slavery in a land far from his home. Doing the best he could, he obtained a position of responsibility and status. Through the false accusations of a malicious woman he was thrown into prison. Again, doing the best he could under adverse circumstances he was forgotten by one who had promised to help. It was only when that person saw an opportunity for gain did he remember what Joseph had done for him. Released from prison and given a high position of responsibility and authority Joseph flourished due to his God-given wisdom and foresight. Years later, when his brothers unknowingly came to him in need he revealed himself to them by saying, “… you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good” (Genesis 50:20).
We must understand that God allows, but does not cause, evil to come upon us. When it does come we must maintain our faith and trust in God because He can use whatever situation may come upon us for good. “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).