This question is constantly asked, and possibly by you yourself.
There are basically three types of bad events that occur: those which we call Natural Disasters. They can range from sicknesses and diseases to tornados and earthquakes. Next there are accidents. Now some accidents are self-inflicted. And finally there are the harms inflicted by people. These can range anywhere from abuse and basic crime, to wars. Let’s briefly consider these, though far more can be said about any one of them.
NATURAL DISASTERS – According to the Bible, and experientially verifiable, we are living in a world that is not always safe. Disasters as well as benefits are to be expected. Jesus described it like this, “…and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat upon that house…” In other words, things are coming our way, both harmful and beneficial. Therefore we must all live responsibly, be prepared as best we can, and heed the warnings provided. Everyone is susceptible to, as well as are the recipients of what may come our way. It is unwise to assume special privilege or entitlement.
ACCIDENTS – Accidents are harms which are unintended by all parties. Perhaps they are the results of carelessness, ignorance, presumption, bad timing, but are harmful nonetheless. Imperfect people occasionally produce imperfect situations, and people get hurt. Forgiveness and grace must be readily dispensed, because anyone of us can unwittingly and needlessly inflict harm.
INTENTIONAL HARM INFLICTED BY PEOPLE - The acts of people are self-governed, as are your own. We cannot even use the jovial excuse ‘The devil made me do it.’ We tend to resent any hint of interference on our personal liberties and choices, even by our parents, let alone God. We further clamor away from the thought of possible judgement, even though it is the logical consequence of free choice. Yet we quickly turn and accuse God for not stepping in and preventing the vial actions of others when they are exercising their free choice.In the preparation and development of every individual, God’s divine plan is to “train up the child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”
This training includes instruction, discipline, duties, responsibilities, and liberties. When the training is complete, the person is then released into the liberties of adulthood. By the time each individual is released, he is to know right from wrong (instruction), how to control his behavior (discipline), do what is required without having to the told (duties), and step up to the plate of need when necessary (responsibilities).
Any individual who fails or bypasses any of these, and still takes up their liberties will likely do so for selfish and irresponsible reasons, which always lands at the expense of others. Does God step in and stop them? Who failed in such a case? Truly, this individual who has exercised their free choice has failed in their responsibilities of life, but maybe also his or her parents. Having children is a serious calling. There is also the possibility of failure by the other authorities of society.
Nevertheless, the liberties of these individuals make victims of others. True, a judgment is pending for all, but in the meantime God has further left us with the responsibility of combating corruption, violence, and every activity that causes harm to our fellow human. The primary tools He expects us to use are love, truth, and also the muscle of authority. Can you imagine what our world would be like if we walked in all of these? So we may ask again “Why do bad things happen to good people?”
(Next topic – What about Divine intervention?)