“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” – Genesis 50:20
Recently Tee accompanied me on a business trip to New York, seizing the opportunity to shop and sightsee while I attended a conference. Among her many ventures included a visit to “ground zero” and the 9/11 Museum. In describing what moved her most while touring the museum, she could not help but mention the responders – firefighters, police, medical personnel, and countless ordinary citizens, the goodness of people that emerged in the midst of tragedy. . . . Ironically, it was later that very day when we received the news about the terrorist attacks in Paris.
Why do bad things happen to good people? It’s a question as old as mankind itself. The Bible even dedicates an entire book on the subject, the Book of Job, which – interestingly – many scholars contend may be the first book recorded in Scripture. Nor is Job the only story of its kind, bad things happening to good people, another being Joseph who was sold into slavery to the Egyptians by his jealous brothers. And why in recent times were innocent victims killed in Oklahoma City, the World Trade Center towers, Paris, Sudan and Syria to name a few, not to leave out the horrors of the Holocaust? I don’t know. Such debates I must defer to the greater minds of theologians and philosophers, except even they have yet to offer sufficient answers that provide comfort for those who experience, or have experienced, the pain and grief of such undeserved suffering.
Even Jesus never gave an answer as to why bad things happen to good people. What he did say was this: “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) So what I do know is what my wife observed at the 9/11 Museum, that when tragedy occurs – regardless if the cause is from acts of human violence or of nature –human goodness is inevitably nearby, like the countless brave souls who responded to the 9/11 attacks. Those acts of human goodness give us reason to take heart, and a glimpse at how Jesus has overcome the world. Consider how Joseph responded to his own jealous brothers, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done . . .” So in these times we must take heart.