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Why does God allow bad things to happen?

If you have been an outdoorsman for any time at all, “Murphy’s Law,” is no stranger to you. The dictionary defines Murphy’s Law as, “an observation: anything that can go wrong will go wrong.” For the waterfowler, it could be the wind changing direction just before shooting time or the birds randomly moving to a new field after dumping into your spot, without hesitation, the entire previous week. In the same breath, fishermen are well acquainted with Murphy’s Law… ever had a perfectly good battery die at the boat ramp? Flat tire on a trailer? Let’s be honest, outdoorsmen are known for their superstitious tendencies (side note: superstition is not of God, he is truly omnipotent, but we are still an odd bunch). While reflecting on stories in the field and their correlation to “real life” at home, I cannot help but contemplate God and his purpose in all of our experiences. What was that (insert good or bad memory here), preparing me for? Why did that thing have to happen?

Historically, and still today, the biggest issue influencing the faith of believers and non-believers alike, is why does a loving and good God allow bad things to happen to the people he loves?

Short answer, I don’t know, and neither does anyone else… but that is not something that should leave us disheartened.

Back Story:

When Christ walked earth, fully man and fully God, he had some close friends. One of his best friends was Lazarus. We know that they were close because when Lazarus’ sisters sent word that he was sick to Jesus, they simply said, “Lord, the one you love is sick (John 11:3 NIV).” I love this story because it brings redemption to sickness. In our lives, experiences with sickness and death seem to singlehandedly dismantle, or solidify, our faith in God. In fact, the mourning in those times can be blamed for a majority of my past struggling and wrestling with faith. In the same breath, experiencing loss provided some of my greatest growth as a believer. Because of this, I do not personally believe that the theme of restoration in this story is defined by the moment Lazarus comes back to life (sorry for the spoiler). But I am getting ahead of myself…

So Christ receives word that Lazarus is sick and how does he react? Does he quickly book the first donkey out of town? Does he immediately begin the journey to his friend’s bedside? Not exactly.

John 11:6 tells us that because Jesus loved Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, he stayed where he was for two more days. This seems odd. The one guy, Jesus, with the power to heal his best friend is simply lallygagging around for two days before departing. We know that by the time Jesus got there, “Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days (John 11:17).”

Jesus purposely waited so there would be no naysayers declaring that Lazarus wasn’t actually dead. In Fact, Lazarus was so dead, when Jesus prepared to enter the tomb, Martha said, he ‘prolly’ stinks pretty bad Jesus (loosely translated from John 11:39).

So what’s the good news?

Well I already ruined the end of the story, Jesus brings dead-as-a-doornail Lazarus back to life (John 11:41-44 go read it). This action is an example of what Christ continues to do spiritually in the life of believers today. We are all born dead (spiritually speaking, Romans 3:23) and because Christ took our sin to the cross (2 Corinthians 5:21), we are able to abide in him, spiritually alive. From death to life. Redemption.

Earlier I mentioned the big question of why does God allow bad things to happen. I also said the cool part of this story is not necessarily the resurrection of Lazarus (although that is pretty sweet). I want you to read John 11:35. It’s my favorite memory verse. It’s also the shortest verse in the Bible. Coincidence?

“Jesus wept.”

This verse is very interesting and informative. Here is where we find comfort in not always having the answer to why. Why did that tragedy occur? Why did that person get sick? Why did that job not work out?

Jesus did not weep because he was surprised that Lazarus died.

He made it clear that he knew that before he ever got to Bethany (John 11:14). Jesus wept because he saw the pain of mourning in the eyes of the ones he loved. He saw the suffering of those he held dear as well as their continued faith in his goodness. Jesus wept because he experienced loss alongside Mary and Martha. Jesus wept.

I find comfort in this passage. In the moments when I question why God allows certain things to happen, I am comforted in my relationship with Christ. I find peace in the truth that Jesus comes alongside us in our suffering. He was not omitted the pain of mourning, but provided a love that transcends it. In the unknown of tragedy, we are fully known by God through Christ.

Find comfort in the unknown.

See you in the blind.