Why do bad things happen? If God is in control, why does He allow tragedies? Bad things happen for a variety of reasons. Some things happen because of simple natural law. We age, we get sick, we eventually die. It is the common fate of all humanity. No one is exempt. Some bad things happen as a result of human choices. If we drink and drive, we may just kill someone. Some bad things happen as a result of demonic activity. Satan lives to destroy. Sometimes God allows it. God is also able to intervene. Actually, God is sovereign and is able to stop, or deflect all evil. The question is “Why does He allow bad things to happen?” Although the question could be “How many times has He intervened and we are unaware?”
I. The Lord Causes Grief: Lamentations 3:31-33
For the Lord will not cast off forever.
32 Though He causes grief,
Yet He will show compassion
According to the multitude of His mercies.
33 For He does not afflict willingly,
Nor grieve the children of men.
Some people are uncomfortable with the idea that the Lord causes grief. Does He cause, or allow, bad things to happen. The Jewish people in the Old Testament accepted everything as if it came from God. They emphasized the sovereignty of God. These verses indicate that although the Lord causes grief, it is not something that He enjoys. He does use grief as a teaching tool. In the same way that human parents use punishment to teach their children right from wrong, God sometimes uses grief to instruct us.
II. Punishment for Sin: Lamentations 3:37-39
Who is he who speaks and it comes to pass,
When the Lord has not commanded it?
38 Is it not from the mouth of the Most High
That woe and well-being proceed?
39 Why should a living man complain,
A man for the punishment of his sins?
Once again we see the language that God commands what comes to pass. Certainly, when the bad things that happen to us are a consequence of our sin, we should recognize we may have got off easy. We have all sinned. God has offered forgiveness in Jesus Christ. Sometimes, even though we are forgiven of the eternal consequences of sin, there is a penalty that will be paid here on earth.
III. Examine Our Ways: Lamentations 3:40-41
Let us search out and examine our ways,
And turn back to the Lord;
41 Let us lift our hearts and hands
To God in heaven.
If bad things are happening to us we should examine our lives. Are we living in unrepentant sin? Have we repented of any known sin? Are we caught up in the sins of others? Is it merely a test of our faith? Is it a learning experience? Is God using it so that we may be a witness to others?
Even if we are unable to discern the cause we can trust that God knows what He is doing. God is not surprised. He will give us the wisdom and strength that we need for any challenge.
IV. We Are Not Consumed: Lamentations 3: 22-24
Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.
23 They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“Therefore I hope in Him!”
The difficulties that we face in this life will have an end. We must simply trust in God to see us through. His mercies are new every morning. He is faithful to His people. We should not lose heart. Our hope is in God.
V. The Lord is Good: Lamentations 3:25
The Lord is good to those who wait for Him,
To the soul who seeks Him.
This does not mean that there will never be anything bad in our life. Bad things happen for a variety of reasons, but through them all, God is good to His people. In fact, in times of grief it is even more important to turn to God for help, comfort and strength. When grief drives us closer to God, it is good grief.