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why do bad things happen to good people 2012Why do bad things happen to good people?  And why do good things happen to those who are evil?

But I had nearly lost confidence;
my faith was almost gone
because I was jealous of the proud
when I saw that things go well for the wicked.
-Psalm 73:2-3

Lord, if I argued my case with you,
you would prove to be right.
Yet I must question you about matters of justice.
Why are the wicked so prosperous?
Why do dishonest people succeed?
-Jeremiah 12:1-2

Why doesn’t God set a time for judging,
a day of justice for those who serve him?

People move property lines to get more land;
they steal sheep and put them with their own flocks.
They take donkeys that belong to orphans,
and keep a widow’s ox till she pays her debts.
They prevent the poor from getting their rights
and force the needy to run and hide.

So the poor, like wild donkeys,
search for food in the dry wilderness;
nowhere else can they find food for their children.
They have to harvest fields they don’t own,
and gather grapes in vineyards of the wicked.
At night they sleep with nothing to cover them,
nothing to keep them from the cold.
They are drenched by the rain that falls on the mountains,
and they huddle beside the rocks for shelter.

Evil people make slaves of fatherless infants
and take the children of the poor in payment for debts.
But the poor must go out with no clothes to protect them;
they must go hungry while harvesting wheat.
They press olives for oil, and grapes for wine,
but they themselves are thirsty.
In the cities the wounded and dying cry out,
but God ignores their prayers.

-Job 24:1-12

Is there anything more heart-wrenching than seeing the wicked succeed while the innocent continue to suffer because of the wicked’s evil schemes? Why must bad things happen to good people and why must good things happen to those who are bad?

1. God is using difficult times to help good people grow

The Lord said,
Jeremiah, if you get tired racing against people,
how can you race against horses?
If you can’t even stand up in open country,
how will you manage in the jungle by the Jordan?

-Jeremiah 12:5

God is helping us understand the wound of others so we can be better instruments of His healing.

Without tasting sorrow, how could we lead others out of the dark?

The wisdom we learn from grief is often greater than that we learn from happy times, it is the kind of wisdom that can overcome darkness and that can transform every suffering into strength.

2. God has a greater plan that has not yet reached its end

Then Moses turned to the Lord again and said,
Lord, why do you mistreat your people? Why did you send me here?Ever since I went to the king to speak for you, he has treated them cruelly. And you have done nothing to help them!
-Exodus 5:22-23

Then the Lord said to Moses,
Now you are going to see what I will do to the king. I will force him to let my people go. In fact, I will force him to drive them out of his land.
-Exodus 6:1

We can only see what happens for a short period of time, for the duration of our short life on earth at most.  We do not know what happens thereafter.  And we surely don’t know what God has in store for us for eternity.  God sees the big picture, and He sees the most beautiful things in store for those who trust in Him.

“…Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” – 1 Corinthians 2:9

3. Evil people are given mercy and a time of grace to change

God’s wisdom is infinite.  He knows our every tear, our every sigh. He knows our parents.  He knows how we grew up.  He knows our every lack.  And because He knows such things, He is also merciful.

He gives every person the opportunity to change.

4. We are taught humility and faith by acknowledging how much more we do not know

Then Job answered the Lord.Job
I know, Lord, that you are all-powerful;
that you can do everything you want.
You ask how I dare question your wisdom
when I am so very ignorant.
I talked about things I did not understand,
about marvels too great for me to know.
You told me to listen while you spoke
and to try to answer your questions.
In the past I knew only what others had told me,
but now I have seen you with my own eyes.
So I am ashamed of all I have said
and repent in dust and ashes.
-Job 42:1-6

The truth is the we do not know everything yet, and we never will.  We await for God’s revelation and we trust in His wisdom and love.

If God is going to lead us for all eternity, we’ve got to learn to trust in Him.

Words from St. Therese of Lisieux:

“It was a very great trial, but he whose Heart never sleeps taught me that he performs miracles for someone whose faith is like a tiny mustard seed.  He does this to strengthen a faith so weak, but for his close friends and for his Mother he works no miracles before testing their faith.  He let Lazarus die, though Martha and Mary had sent word that he was ill.  And at the wedding feast at Cana the Blessed Virgin asked Jesus to help the master of the house, but she was told that his hour had not yet come.  But what a reward they got when the water was turned into wine and Lazarus rose from the dead!”

5. We are being led to our greatest joy – God Himself!

When you pray that God may help you feel His love for you, don’t be surprised if He takes away your job, your health, your friends, your dreams, your noble mission, even your most beloved.  God can take them all away for a time so you may know that His love for you is enough.

Do we love God because He provides us with gifts?  Or do we love those gifts more than we love the giver Himself?

Times of trials give us the opportunity to seek God Himself, to be stripped away of every treasure that we know so that we may know who our real treasure is.

All the other things we cling on to will eventually disappear.  They can be stolen away from us, they can rot, they can leave.  God wants us to have a firm foundation in Him so that no one could ever take away our joy.

“Did you notice my servant Job? the Lord asked.  There is no one on earth as faithful and good as he is. He worships me and is careful not to do anything evil.

Satan replied,   Would Job worship you if he got nothing out of it? You have always protected him and his family and everything he owns. You bless everything he does, and you have given him enough cattle to fill the whole country. But now suppose you take away everything he has he will curse you to your face!”
JOB 1:8-11

Times of crisis are times of great opportunity in order to prove our friendship with God.  They declare the authenticity of our faith.  And after we have been duly pruned, after the things we treasure have been banished away from our hearts, God restores them to us, even more than the blessings he took away.  This time, He knows our joy would always be intact and that we could now have everything without being possessed by our own possessions.

“Then, after Job had prayed for his three friends, the Lord made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had had before… The Lord blessed the last part of Job’s life even more than he had blessed the first.”
-JOB 42:10,12

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