Why do bad things happen to good people?
This is a very complex area that is very difficult to make broad statements about. Let me make some comments.
Here is the most simplistic way to explain this question:
- By God giving Adam the ability (ie free will) to obey Him or not, God created the possibility of evil.
- By his disobedient choice, Adam actualized evil.
- All suffering in this world is a result of the sin that entered into creation through Adam’s sin.
- The possibility of evil has to exist to create the ability of humans to have the freedom to make choices.
- Without this freedom, there is no love
This explanation provides a beginning point but does not really do the question justice. Here are a few books to give you further insight:
A Ready Defense, by Josh McDowell
The Case for Faith, by Lee Strobel
Evil and the Justice of God, by N.T. Wright
There are many different facets to this issue and it can become a very tangled issue. Here are some other facets that you might consider when doing an in depth study of the coexistence of God and evil:
- How is the future known by God?
- Did God plan the future?
- How did evil get into creation in the first place if God knows the future?
- Sometimes, people bear the immediate consequences of their own evil.
Often, others bear the consequences of evil that they did not initiate. This can happen directly—like being killed in the Twin Towers on 9/11 or indirectly—in warfare terminology, you can think of these consequences as “collateral damage”.
- Evil is an ever present reality in this world and we can not rid this world of it. This will only happen when God brings this world to an end and brings us into the New Heavens and the New Earth.
- The Bible just assumes that evil exists and does not go to any great length to explain why. We are asking a question that is not answered explicitly by scripture.