One of the toughest questions I’ve ever been asked as a Pastor during seminars, conferences, and personal counseling is this, “Why do bad things happen to good people…and why do good things happen to bad people?” 🙂
Well, I have four answers to that question:
First of all, there are no good or bad people…there are only right and wrong actions.
The question, “Why do bad things happen to good people, and why do good things happen to bad people?” is basically flawed because it’s based on a wrong premise – the assumption that there are good and bad people. In reality, there are no good or bad people, there are only right and wrong actions (I like to include thoughts as actions because they have consequences).
Based on some narrow dogmatic interpretations of religious writings, you and others of your kind may label people as good or bad. Well, that doesn’t make them so. This is why the Creator of this Universe doesn’t seek any individual’s opinion before giving out favors or curses to inhabitants of our planet.
I know a lot of people might not like this answer because we all like to feed our egos and claim that we are good; we also like to point our fingers at the other fellow and say that that he or she is bad. Yet, in reality, there are no good or bad people, there are only right and wrong actions.
This understanding is basic to unraveling the riddle of why bad things happen to good people and vice versa. Before you throw your flames at me for my assertion, read what Jesus Himself said when someone called Him, “Good Master…”
“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good – except God alone.” ~ Luke 18:19
One reason I do not subscribe to organized religions (I referred to them as ‘religious uniformities’ somewhere) is because they reinforce the base human instinct of branding those outside our circle of belief as evil.
Once upon a time, I was called a devil and labeled a false prophet by the Christian denomination to which I belonged, simply because I dared to think for myself and pursue my personal convictions. It was then that I came face to face with the wickedness and hostility inherent in organized religion.
Organized religion has for centuries been a tool for the oppression, suppression, and subjugation of the free will of man. Centuries of murders, wars, treachery, and betrayals, have borne out the fact that organized religions are bastions of ignorance and intolerance used to suppress free thought and retard human progress and evolution. One of it’s chief enterprises is the branding and labeling of individuals and groups of people as good or evil based on some silly and foolish fantasies and superstitions.
When any of the brainless drones of any of these organized religions peer out of the narrow confines of their religious cells and see those outside their cocoons and caves thriving and flourishing, they ask, “Why do good things happen to ‘bad’ people?” And when they observe the wretchedness and barrenness of any of their kind – usually the natural result of ignorance and adherence to hollow and meaningless traditions – they wonder, “Why do bad things happen to good people?”
In a sudden burst of elevated awareness, an ex-religious bigot made this statement:
“I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right.” ~ St. Peter, Acts 10:34,35
Peter in essence realized these basic facts:
- God does not show favoritism. 🙂 This is quite contrary to what religious bigots think.
- He accepts men from every nation, as long as they fear Him, and do what is right. Again this is contrary to what most members of each organized religion believe. They would rather that God accepted only members of their narrow circles.
In reality, however, God is not a respecter of persons; He is rather a respecter of the principles and laws He has set in place to govern the Universe. This article emphasizes the aspect of ‘what is right’, but I promise you another post would dwells on the aspect of they that ‘fear Him.’
Secondly, the rightness or wrongness of any action is not a function of religious beliefs, or human traditions; it is rather a function of the immutable and self-evident universal laws of nature
For this reason, I encourage you to invest more time in trying to understand the universal laws and principles of life, than you do trying to become another religious bigot.
There are many categories of laws; I’ll divide them first into two broad categories, then I’ll subdivide the other one into more subs.
- Manmade laws: The majority of religious, traditional, and cultural laws that we find in organized religions and ethnic cultures, are simply man-made laws. They bind people and enslave millions without offering any significant benefits – in fact they impede human progress and hinder true insight into the real spiritual and material principles that govern the universe. This is why slavish adherents to organized religious laws tend to live such impoverished and un-productive lives.
- Universal spiritual and material laws: These are the authentic laws and principles governing all aspects of human and non-human interactions at all levels of being in the universe. They are self evident for those who have the eyes to recognize them. They do not respect creed or culture. Adherence to these set of laws enrich, empower, nourish, and prosper those that live by them unlike the man-made laws.
Universal spiritual and material laws can further be sub-divided into more categories according to the different aspects of human interactions that they govern. Here’s a very brief list to give you an idea of what I have in mind:
- Moral laws: honesty, integrity, justice…
- Economic laws: Parkinson’s, demand and supply…
- Laws of relationships: tolerance, understanding…
- Health laws: Diets, exercise, rest…
- Physical laws (scientific): Gravity, motion, floatation…
Of course, there are others.
An action is right or good when it is in positive alignment with the universal spiritual and material laws; in the same vein, an action is bad or wrong if it is in negative alignment with the universal spiritual and material laws. My aim is to get you to shift your thinking from ‘good and bad people’ to ‘right and wrong actions.’ I also want you to align that thinking with the universal laws rather than religious beliefs.
Thirdly, positive consequences attend right actions, and negative consequences attend wrong actions.
This is simply the law of sowing and reaping in action. There are practically two broad categories of human experiences – fortunes, and misfortunes. Fortunes are the results of good understanding and masterful application of the principles governing the universe – in other words, of right actions. Misfortunes, on the other hand, are the consequences of violating (knowingly, or ignorantly) the principles governing the universe – in other words, of wrong actions.
The wise man Solomon noted that:
“Good understanding giveth favour: but the way of transgressors is hard.” Proverbs 13:15
Another word for wrong action is ‘sin’ – one of the most commonly misunderstood and abused words of all time. ‘Sin’ is a popular word among certain religious groups. But they define it in narrow terms – the violation of some man-made religious rules and views. Yet, sin is a universal concept. It’s not even a religious concept at all. In my way of thinking, sin is fundamentally a scientific concept.
I define sin as any violation of any truly universal spiritual and material principles. I really don’t care if you buy this definition or not, it doesn’t change a thing!
“Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law for sin is a transgression of the law” ~ I John 3:4
I can almost hear someone screaming that the law here speaks of the law of Moses, and that’s exactly my point; you define a good person as someone who slavishly and ignorantly adheres to a set of humanly biased and prejudiced interpretations of religious writings. That is why you wonder when bad things happen to your so-called ‘good’ people.
My friend, you can paraphrase the Scripture I just quoted to read; “sin is any violation of any genuine universal spiritual and material principles.” That’s the more enlightened view of the concept. And when you understand it, the puzzle as to why bad things happen to good people, and vice versa, vanish. You then understand that there are no good people…there are only right and wrong actions.
A sinner is someone who violates any of the governing laws of the universe – knowingly or ignorantly. When some one performs a wrong action with respect to a true universal law, the fellow has sinned, and there are consequences. This Universe is governed by principles and laws. Anyone can avoid, or at least minimize suffering if they understand and diligently apply the principles governing this universe. Hardships and unnecessary suffering in life come from transgression – the willful, or ignorant violation of universal laws and principles.
You may think that you are righteous because you hold certain religious creeds and affirmations…I can only pity you because thats why you would never understand the cause of your misfortunes.
For instance, what happens when an individual jumps off a 100 storey skyscraper? Thats a clear violation of the Law of Gravity; in other words, the fellow has committed a sin against a planetary law of physics! Now the universe does not know whether the fellow is a pagan, Hindu, spiritualist, Christian, or Moslem, it gives them exactly the same reward – broken bones! 🙂
So it is in other aspects of reality. There are laws governing every aspect of interactions in this Universe and at any time you violate any of them, you introduce hardship and suffering in the sphere of life that they govern.
Imagine the measure of suffering that is in this world as a result of people violating the laws of health. Those laws don’t make any distinctions based on religious affiliations.
The laws of economics and wealth creation do not recognize religious affiliations either. This is why so many slavish adherents to the world’s organized religions languish in poverty, and suffering.
On ‘incurable’ diseases and ‘disabilities’
What about those that are plagued with serious illnesses – such as, cancer, AIDS, and those other illnesses that have been labeled as ‘incurable’ by medical experts? Am I saying that they brought it on themselves and that they are being punished for some sin? What if they were born that way, how is that their fault?
Well, first of all, no disease is ‘incurable.’ So, the moment you accept a mindset that insults the capacity and power of God, you’ve performed a wrong action. When you elevate the opinions and expertise of men above the power of God, that’s idolatry (a wrong action). You now understand why I say that sin is not a religious, but rather a scientific phenomenon.
I cannot in anyway blame someone who’s going through pain and suffering as a result of illness for their physical condition; but I’ll hold them responsible for their attitude and mindset towards their condition and the possibility of their getting better and living normal lives. You do not violate the principles of the universe just by doing the wrong thing, but also by failing to do the right things . So, when a sick person gives up hope because of the medical reports of a fellow human being, I believe that’s a wrong action that can worsen that condition, intensify suffering, and prolong the process of recovery.
The right action is to have a positive attitude and expect a miracle!
When we speak of miracles, I do appreciate that we are making reference to occurrences and manifestations that transcend the present understanding of universal laws by some, and that’s ok. In this sense, I do believe in miracles. Technically speaking, though, there really should be nothing like ‘miracles’ because everything is natural. In my way of thinking, miracles do happen and they are perfectly in harmony with universal laws and principles.
I was miraculously healed of five debilitating diseases as I wrote in Supernatural Healing ;medical science had given me practically no hope. I’m also a healing evangelist and have witnessed and continue to witness all kinds of miracles in my meetings. Yet I agree with St. Augustine when he says that “Miracles are not contrary to the laws of nature, but are only contrary to our understanding of them.”
At the age of 24, I became the youngest self-published author in my state of origin here in Nigeria. My book, ‘Rivers in the desert’, earned me hundreds of thousands of Naira, lots newspaper publicity, as well as a tele-speech to Nigerian youths in Washington and Maryland, USA. Let me quote a line from that book:
“…the dictionary didn’t say that miracles are against the laws of nature. No. This is because those laws were instituted by God and are the very laws that hold the entire universe together. The dictionary rather says that miracles do not follow the known laws of nature. They are beyond the realms of man’s present knowledge and understanding at any point in time. In other words, humans at any point in time do not know all there is to know of the laws of nature; so any occurrence beyond the borders of our knowledge is considered a miracle. So miracles follow divine, natural, eternal laws, but are usually beyond the realms of human understanding at any point in time.”
My point in making reference to miracles is to give you hope if you are going through some challenging physical sickness and suffering. I’m saying that the right action for your situation would include a belief in the possibility of miracles to pull you out where the doctors have given you no hope. I’m saying that it would be wrong to accept a man’s statement that your case is incurable and hopeless; that would be an insult to the power of the God who created the Universe. You’ve got to do whatever you can to cultivate faith and a positive attitude in your heart. I’ll encourage you to read this post, “Supernatural Healing,” as it will boost your faith and point out some practical steps towards experiencing miraculous and supernatural healing.
People on sick beds love sympathy – wrong action :(.
I understand that because, as I’ve already written, I was in that state for the greater part of 17 years.
But what sick people do need is greater responsibility over their lives – right action:).
They may like to play the victim; so when you offer sympathy, you reinforce their feelings of helplessness and hopelessness.
What sick people need is the challenge to change their mindset and take more responsibility over their lives and outcomes. They need solutions, not sympathies.
I’ve been a pastor and healing evangelist now for 18 years. I have visited several hospitals and continue to make pastoral visits to the sick in hospitals and homes. I’ve had hospital presidents come to my office to ask me to visit their hospitals to talk and pray with their patients. I’ve seen thousands of undisputable healings and miracles take place throughout my ministry. So I’m not insensitive to the ordeals of sick people, as you might be tempted to think.
Besides, I was sick for 17 years. I was so tortured by pain and infirmities that I contemplated suicide several times. So I understand what sick people want, versus what they really need. They want sympathy and pity; but they need inspiration to greater responsibility, right thinking, and effective solutions.
Jesus said to them, “Rise and be healed…” He also said to them, “Your faith has healed you…” And that’s exactly my message to you if you are in such a situation, or you do have a loved one in such a situation. Rise and be healed, in other words, assume responsibility for your situation and do something about it, even if so-called experts have given you no hope. It is your faith that counts; it’s what you believe and think about the situation that matters. I believe that there’s hope for you and that you can be healed and live a normal life.
And even if you don’t get healed in the form of a miraculous restoration to total physical wholeness, you can still enjoy a happy and fulfilled life by developing and maintaining a positive, grateful, and thankful attitude for the various blessings that you already have.
Fourthly, faithful adherence to one category of universal laws does not spare you from the painful consequences of violating some other set of laws.
You can keep your so-called religious laws faithfully – and thereby qualify yourself as a ‘good’ person – but if you violate the laws of health, you’ve committed sin against those laws. 🙂 The consequence may be sicknesses and diseases, depending on the gravity of your offense.
Your religious group might brand you a righteous man because you pay your dues to the system and adhere blindly to their silly rituals, but if you violate the laws of wealth creation, you’ve committed sin against those laws. The consequence may be that you’ll live in poverty, and lack.
I believe you get my point. Faithful adherence to one category of universal laws does not spare you from the painful consequences of violating some other set of laws. For instance, what would be the fate of a man who has become wealthy as a result of masterful application of the universal laws of wealth creation, but who violates the laws of health? He’ll end up as a very rich, but very sick person. This is why balance is very important in life.
There’s really no injustice in creation…in the natural order of things. Everything proceeds according to precise and set laws, even if we do not have a perfect understanding of these laws. So the question, “Why do bad things happen to good people, and vice versa?” suggests the presence of injustice in the Universe, and so is fundamentally flawed.
The challenge, in my point of view, is for you and I to pursue an expanding and growing insight into the laws governing all aspects of creation. That way we’ll live richer and happier lives, and quit passing judgments on other people.
I also discourage blind adherence and passive allegiance to the ignorant and uninformed dogmas of organized religions. Emancipate yourself from mental slavery, understand the true laws of creation, master them and live like the god you were designed to be.
So there you have it: my four dimensional answers to the question of why bad things happen to good people, and why good things happen to bad people.
So what do you think? Share your thoughts…