Why Good Things Happen to Bad People

For many of us, life doesn’t seem fair. Godly people are unable to conceive, or they lose their beloved children. We see the righteous die young. They experience hardship and devastation. But it becomes more difficult to process how bad things happen to good people as we see good things happening to bad people. How? Why?

You are always righteous, Lord, when I bring a case before You. Yet I would speak with you about Your justice: Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why do all the faithless live at ease?—Jeremiah 12:1

Like Job, the prophet Jeremiah questioned God’s justice. Job suffered because he was righteous. Jeremiah suffered as a member of a nation that had strayed from the Lord. It’s not hard to understand how they would question God’s fairness, considering we would do the same in their boat.

When you’re suffering, it’s hard to focus on your blessings. But every day, every breath and every provision come from the hand of God. He loves each person He has created, and He demonstrates His love through the common grace made available to each of us. 

He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.—Matthew 5:45

But here’s the kicker: For the Christian, the best is yet to come. For the unrepentant person who rejects God, this life is the best he’ll get. Jesus’ story about the rich man and the beggar Lazarus illustrates this beautifully.

There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores. The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, “Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.” But Abraham replied, “Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony.”—Luke 16:19-37

The rich man experienced his run of glory. In his life, he enjoyed his wealth without regard to the God who had provided it. The poor man, however, lived a life of humility and desperation, but he trusted the God who would reward his faith in eternity. 

God saw Lazarus’ pain while he was on earth, and He allowed it to continue. Perhaps his life was meant to be a multitiered lesson for us about the importance of generosity and compassion, as well as the reality of an eternity in the presence of, or separated from, God. Only God knows. 

Like us so many times, Job thought he deserved answers. As he lamented about God’s justice, it became clear he trusted God’s hand, but he didn’t trust God’s heart. But we can trust both. Even as you or people you love are struggling, remember He has purposes you cannot possibly see except, perhaps, in the rearview mirror. 

However, instead of being compelled to jealousy as we see the wicked prosper while we struggle, let’s be moved to compassion, recognizing the fleeting blessings of this life cannot compare with an eternity separated from God. In the end, we who know and love Him have the best of both worlds.