Question: Why do bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people? For Christians, we often say ‘God allows it. It’s his sovereignty.’ The word ‘allow’ implies his sovereignty. Sovereignty is supreme power and authority. God has the ‘right’ to allow what happens to the world he created. He created a world that was perfect. Man brought sin into the world when Adam and Eve disobeyed God.
Isaiah 45:1-7 tells us that God allowed Cyrus – a great king to conquer nations and amass empire for His purpose. Cyrus did not even know God yet God used him ‘SO THAT’ people will know that He is the Lord, God of Israel, beside Him, there is no other. Indeed no one and no other gods can and will ever be like God.
Isaiah continues about the unexplainable ways of God:
9 “Woe to those who quarrel with their Maker,
those who are nothing but potsherds
among the potsherds on the ground.
Does the clay say to the potter,
‘What are you making?’
Does your work say,
‘The potter has no hands’?
10 Woe to the one who says to a father,
‘What have you begotten?’
or to a mother,
‘What have you brought to birth?’
God said ‘Woe’ (great sorrow or distress) to those who quarrel or argue with their Maker. Yes, it is a great distress for man to be arguing or picking fight with his Creator. What is man but potsherd. A potsherd is a broken piece of ceramic material. We are but broken sinful beings. Can the clay question the potter: Anong gagawin mo sa akin, bakit? paano? What are you doing to me? Why are you doing this? How are you making me? God does not need to explain himself. Another analogy: Have you questioned your mother or your father, why did you give birth to me? What have you done? Same sorrow or distress to ask such things of your parents.
God further explains:
11 “This is what the Lord says—
the Holy One of Israel, and its Maker:
Concerning things to come,
do you question me about my children,
or give me orders about the work of my hands?
12 It is I who made the earth
and created mankind on it.
My own hands stretched out the heavens;
I marshaled their starry hosts.
13 I will raise up Cyrus in my righteousness:
I will make all his ways straight.
He will rebuild my city
and set my exiles free,
but not for a price or reward,
says the Lord Almighty.”
Do you ask me about what I want to do with my creation? Are you giving me orders how to do things with what I created? I made all heaven and earth. I have the right and sovereignty to do what I want to do. I raised up Cyrus to be the great emperor so that he will help my people – Israel rebuild my city – Jerusalem. Cyrus will set my exiles – the people I allowed to go into captivity, free. Cyrus will do all these not for any reward. Read Ezra and Nehemiah about the account of Cyrus allowing these two leaders to go back to their home country to rebuild the walls and the temple in Jerusalem. Cyrus did this voluntarily without any terms or condition. God carried out His purpose in His way through someone who did not know Him so that in the end, Cyrus knew the kind of God He is.
God further said:
“From now on I will tell you of new things,
of hidden things unknown to you.
They are created now, and not long ago;
you have not heard of them before today.
So you cannot say,
‘Yes, I knew of them.’
You have neither heard nor understood;
from of old your ears have not been open.
Well do I know how treacherous you are;
you were called a rebel from birth.
For my own name’s sake I delay my wrath;
for the sake of my praise I hold it back from you,
so as not to destroy you completely.
See, I have refined you, though not as silver;
I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.
For my own sake, for my own sake, I do this.
How can I let myself be defamed?
I will not yield my glory to another.
(1) God said He will reveal new things, hidden things unknown to Israel; they did not know because they were blind and deaf… matigas ulo. vv. 7-8
(2) For God’s sake: vv. 9-11 4x God said for my own sake.. for my own name’s sake; for the sake of my praise, for my own sake.
God delays His wrath, God refined and tested His children in the furnace of affliction. He allows sufferings and sad things to happen for His glory – for His own sake.
When I first read of this passage, I learned a new truth: it is all about God – not about us. God does things for His own sake – for His purpose, for His glory. It is not about me. It is about Him.
Truths to hold on to when I want to ask why:
1) God wants me to know the kind of God He is: He is maker of heaven and earth, He is powerful, He is in control. He knows what He’s doing.
2) God wants me to know who I am: I am His created being, I am a potsherd, I am the clay to the Potter. Who am I to question my Maker? How can I ask my Father why He gives me life?
3) God wants me to know that everything is about Him. For His name’s sake, for His praise, for His glory. He will not let himself be defamed (v.48:11). Di siya papayag na mapahiya siya. His reputation is at stake. He will not allow anyone or anything to destroy His name. He will not ‘yield’ (give way) His glory to another.
Yes, God works all things, good and/or bad for good – to all who love him and are called to His purpose. He allows bad things to happen. He is in control. He is sovereign. And He turns the no good into something good for His glory.
Yes, we often wonder how come bad things happen to good people… how come Christians suffer. I realized God’s name is most honored by how his children respond to sufferings. I learned this from a dad mourning over his child. He stood before a crowd to say that God is good ‘EVEN’ when his child died. God’s glory shines brightest when he testified of God’s amazing grace and mercy to help their family go through the difficult journey. It is not about the why but the how.
A pastor once preached that when God allowed suffering to enter your life, do not ask ‘why’; instead ask ‘how’… how Lord, help me go through this in your way? How should I respond, Lord? How do I overcome this challenge that you set before me? Show me how…
Many things in life we cannot explain. Many things we do not have direct answers from God. He does not need to explain himself to us. He is God. We are man – His created broken beings. When we cannot understand, when we cannot trace His hands, we need to Trust His heart. It is about God and God alone. Trust Him. He will not allow himself to be defamed. He will not yield his glory to anyone much less the evil one.