When Bad Things Happen to Good People

            Why do bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people? That is a question that is truly as old as time. In fact, that is the issue that the book of Job, one of the oldest books of the Bible, tries to tackle. Though these questions have been pondered ever since people began pondering, we haven’t seemed to come up with the perfect answer yet. You may hear clichés or platitudes, but they tend to leave us wanting more. 

            I don’t know if we’ll ever be able to fully answer that question. Jesus touched on this in Matthew 5:45: “For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” That’s not really an explanation. He’s just saying that God blesses both the good and the bad. (Side note: People often point to the rain in this verse as being something negative. That’s not actually what Jesus meant. Society back then was very agriculturally driven; thus, rain was a necessity for growing crops. No rain meant a drought. A drought meant people starved and died. So, rain was considered a blessing.) Ultimately, all that we know is that everyone in life will receive good and bad, regardless of what we think that they deserve. 

            This is the scene that played out for Joseph in Genesis 39. If you don’t know who he is, I’ll give you a quick recap. He is one of the sons of Jacob (who would later be known as Israel). He also happened to be his father’s favorite, and this led to resentment from his brothers. They originally planned to kill him because of that but decided to sell him into slavery instead. This transaction led to him ending up in Egypt. Though he was a slave, he managed to garner favor with His master, Potiphar. Eventually, Potiphar gave Joseph authority over his household. However, Potiphar’s wife decided that she wanted to sleep with Joseph, and this is where things went downhill for him.

            Joseph, being the upright and good man that he was, wanted nothing to do with the affair and regularly spurned her advances. One day, Potiphar’s wife got him alone and again propositioned him. Joseph literally ran out of the room to avoid committing the heinous act, but she was able to snatch one of his ‘garments’. Embarrassed by being turned down, Potiphar’s wife told everyone, including her husband, that Joseph tried to force himself on her, and he was scared away when she screamed. She then claimed that she grabbed his garment as he ran off from trying to have his way with her. This led to Potiphar throwing Joseph in prison, presumably for the rest of his life. 

            Joseph, throughout his life, was an honorable man. This incident was no different. He did everything the right way, but he still got thrown in prison. He was good, but he was treated as if he was bad. Though he committed no crime, he was deemed a criminal and treated as such. Thankfully, that would not be the end of his story, though. Genesis 39:21 says, “But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love…” While the world saw someone who was guilty, God saw someone who was innocent. God did not abandon Joseph just because bad was happening to him. 

            Have you ever been in a situation where you have seemingly done all the right things, yet what is happening around you doesn’t seem to reflect that? I’m sure that you have. If not, I’m sure that it will happen to you someday. That may seem somber, but that is simply a truth of life. Bad things will happen to good people. It will be frustrating, and it will be confusing. Rest assured, the same thing that happened for Joseph will happen for you. God will see you, he will be with you, and he will love you. He will not abandon nor forget about you. Though he may not prevent every bad thing from happening to you, he has promised that he will be with you every step of the way as you go through it.

            We can know that is true because of the fact that Jesus died for us. He was the truly innocent person that was treated as a criminal. He is the embodiment of bad things happening to someone good. The reason why he allowed it to happen was because he was stepping in on our behalf. It was our sins and mistakes that led him to the cross; he did nothing to deserve it. I believe that if he was willing to take on the ultimate punishment because of our crimes so that we can be with him always, then it stands to reason that he will be by our side whenever we have to deal with the bad that this world has to throw at us, regardless of if it’s deserved or not.  

            No matter what it is that we are facing today, remember that God will treat you the same way that he treated Joseph— the Lord will be with you and will show you steadfast love. That’s his promise to you. That promise was made possible through the cross and resurrection of Jesus, and that promise will never fail.

***If you liked this, then I think that you’ll enjoy my book. You can buy it by going here. Also, I have started a His Kingdom/ Our Good podcast. It’s available on Apple Podcast, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Overcast, Stitcher, and Anchor.***

Published by smith1626

I am the Director of Youth Ministries at St. John United Methodist Church in Scott Depot, WV. Mostly, I am a sinner saved by amazing grace.

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