How Can a Good God Let Bad Things Happen?

How can a good God let bad things happen?

This question is the atheist’s defense and the wounded Christian’s dilemma. We ask it when we witness or experience overwhelming loss, and struggle with reconciling why a good God who loves us seemingly ignored–or at worst, allowed–such a terrible pain to be carved into our heart. Usually these conversations revolve around death.

God is good. And bad things happen.

God is all-powerful. And bad things happen.

In John 11, we find two sisters mourning the loss of their brother, whom Jesus loved, and they didn’t understand why Jesus didn’t come to cure the illness and prevent the death. They sent word to Him, and He didn’t come in time.

They had faith in Jesus.
They knew Jesus was God in human flesh.
They knew they were loved by Jesus.
And still, bad things happened–their brother, Lazarus, died.

The sisters tell Jesus, “Lord, if You would have been here, our brother would not have died.”

Jesus says, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26)

It’s interesting to pause here and note something Jesus spoke earlier, in John 6:63: “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all.”

Jesus came to offer life to the fullest–and that eternal fullness of life was only getting started here on earth with His presence. The flesh has to be put to death for the spirit to be raised. What we have now is not all we will have, and what we see now is not all there is. The best was yet to come, and death could not stop it.

But rather than getting theological and slapping a biblical bandaid on their grief, Jesus goes to the tomb and experiences the sting of death upon His loved ones.

And He weeps with them.

These people He created and loves are brokenhearted and hurting, and He enters into their pain. He weeps with them.

Then He tells them to take away the large stone that blocked the entrance of the tomb. (Lazarus had been dead four days at this point, and as sister Martha politely reminded Jesus, “now he stinketh.”)

But the God who weeps with us isn’t afraid of our stink.

“So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, ‘Father, I thank you that you have heard me.

I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.’

When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out.’

[Quick side note: Lazarus was dead, not deaf. I wonder how much of Jesus’ crying out in the loud voice was for the spiritually deaf in His presence. Anyway.]

The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, ‘Unbind him, and let him go.'” (John 11:41-44)

This story foreshadows another day of weeping, another untimely death, and another emptied tomb. This time it would be Jesus, sinless and holy, going to hell and back for His people and returning with death’s keys.

Will we still have to die? Yes, likely, unless Jesus returns for us before then.

Will we still grieve in this lifetime? Yes. Perhaps many times.

But we do not grieve as those without hope. We do not grieve in finality. We do not fear death, because our hope is not in the fleshly shell we currently inhabit, but in the power of the Holy Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead and who, if we’ve believed in Jesus, now dwells within us.

When we grieve, Jesus weeps with us.
When we grieve, Jesus whispers “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me shall live, even though he dies. He shall not perish, but will have everlasting life.”

Jesus didn’t come to give us a one-way ticket to heaven while ignoring our lives here on earth. He came to walk with us, to weep with us, and to whisper, “Abide in Me. I won’t abandon you, even in death.”

The all-good, all-powerful, all-loving God goes through the bad things with us–He doesn’t leave us to struggle alone, or for forever. He’s already begun the process of bringing us into life to the fullest, where sorrows and sufferings cease. This life is hard, but it’s not where we’ll be forever.

For those who have claimed Christ Jesus as Lord and Savior, death is not the end of all things good–it’s the end of all things broken. For the faith-filled believer, death is not the extinction of life, it’s the EXIT sign above the door ushering into the eternal, full and beautiful.

When we pass through that exit, we may grieve. We don’t all get to travel through at the same time, and those left behind waiting longer will grieve, indeed. But we don’t grieve without hope. We wait in hope-filled expectation for the Jesus who came to earth and poured His Holy Spirit out on all flesh–we wait with hope for the Savior King who is coming for His people.

With Jesus, death is not the end of a limited life, but the passageway to neverending abundance in His presence.

May we not fear death but eagerly await the day He calls us home!

Jesus will carry us all the way home, even through the darkest parts of the journey. We have nothing to fear, in life or death, because He’s been in both and emerged victorious. The bad things can only happen for a limited time, but our good God is for forever.

Claim His victory today.

Proclaim the chain-breaking, death-defying, heart-healing power of Jesus over your life.

Abide in Him.


  1. No need to believe such things at all. Unsurprisingly, this god never answers prayers, now. So much for the promises in the bible that any true believer can get any prayer answered.

    “The all-good, all-powerful, all-loving God goes through the bad things with us–He doesn’t leave us to struggle alone, or for forever.”

    hmm, funny how christians commit suicide and show this claim to be false.


    1. Thanks for stopping by! You are right that some Christians do commit suicide. Poor mental health can be a very scary place–I’ve been there and I don’t wish it on anyone. While I don’t think God wants us to end our own life, I do believe that He doesn’t hold that choice against us. He does hear our prayers of desperation and He does answer us when we are humble. We may not always listen or obey, but He does respond. Have a good weekend!


      1. Your god promises to never give anyone more than they can handle. Seems that your god is lying to these people.
        Yep, you claim that this god doesn’t hold that choice against humans and other chrsitians claim it does. Unsurprisingly, you’ve invented your god in your kinder image than others.
        funny how people committing suicide shows that your god doesn’t answer prayers of desperation at all. You seem to want to blame them by claiming that they must be humble, and when this god fails, you have a tidy claim that they weren’t. Victim blaming is common for Christians.


      2. Hi again!

        You may be thinking of 1 Corinthians 10:13-14? “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.”

        That passage was talking about temptation, but otherwise I’m not sure where God promises that He will never give us more than we can handle. (If you have a verse I’m not thinking of, feel free to share it.) Jesus tells His disciples that things were *going* to get very hard, but that He would be sending the Holy Spirit to help us, and for us to not fear the hard things. “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

        So yes, there will definitely be things that are more than we can handle, alone. That’s why Jesus came to earth–to be God with us. We don’t always want God with us, and we aren’t always willing to trust that He’s big enough for us, but He is indeed with those whose faith is in Him.

        Thanks for stopping by!


      3. that one, and others:
        “13 No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it.” 1 corinthians 10
        ” 6 Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Phillipians 4
        “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted, and saves the crushed in spirit.” Psalms 34
        funny how the one from 1 Corinthians isn’t always translated as “temptation” and hmm, isn’t suicide a temptation as release from misery?
        You seem to be ignorant of what your bible promises and how your god fails in these promises.


      4. Thanks for sharing those other verses–they are good ones.

        I will pray that you will experience God as good and faithful to His promises. I don’t think there’s anything I can say that will change your mind in a brief internet comment exchange, but I hope you’ll stick around the blog and hear more about how I’ve experienced Jesus in my life. May God surprise you with good things today!

        P.S. I don’t think suicide is a sin, in case you had wondered. I know many personal stories of people who cried out to God in their desperation and were rescued from their despair. I’ve been there too.


      5. Those verses show your claims to be false. It is no surprise you try to ignore them and then try to blame me for your inablity to know what your bible actually says.

        Your prayers fail, as the prayers of dozens of christians who have beseeched their god to make me agree with them. This is despite the repeated promises by your supposed savior that *any* prayer will be answered, no exceptions or excuses, and answered quickly.

        You have only a few possiblities why this happens: 1. your god loves me as I am. 2. your god doesn’t think you are a true believer, 3. your god doesn’t exist.

        And I know you don’t think suicide is a sin. Other Christians do, yet more evidence you all simply make up your claims of what your god considers sin. Funny how it’s always about you getting what you need and ignoring those who don’t.


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