Read (from the New Living Translation)

As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth. 

“Rabbi,” his disciples asked him, “why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sins?” 

“It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered. “This happened so the power of God could be seen in him” 

John 9:1-3

Go Deep

To start us off, Wally from The Wally Show shares how this question kept him from following God for a long time. He shares how he wrestled with it and the powerful conclusion he came to. 

One of the biggest questions that holds people back in their faith is, “If God is good, why do bad things happen to good people?”

Truth be told, this very question kept me estranged from God for many years. What is so interesting about this question is, in addition to the question of suffering, it also includes our sense of justice. Why do bad things happen to good people? In our minds we can almost justify or wrap our heads around bad things happening to bad people. However, the reality is, God loves us all the same and does not make any distinction between good or bad people with regard to both blessing and suffering.

Matthew 5:45 says, “For He gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike.” So where does that leave us? The question is still out there, and the truth is I don’t have a definitive answer. While I was wrestling with this question I had a pastor tell me, “People suffer so that God can be glorified.” I took a minute to process this and then exclaimed, “Are you kidding me, what kind of narcissist would intentionally cause people to suffer just so He could receive praise?”

Enter 6 more months of me not following God.

In order for me to move forward with my faith, I had to somehow resolve this question in my head. It is a fact: innocent people suffer and perish. Scripture is full of examples of men and women who suffered unjustly and were innocent of any wrongdoing. Remember, the Bible says good and bad things happen to both good and bad people. Maybe we just take more note when bad things happen to good people.

Even the disciples wrestled with this question when Jesus encountered a blind man. The Bible says in John 9:1-3, “As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth.

“Rabbi,” his disciples asked him, “why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sins?”

“It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered. “This happened so the power of God could be seen in him”

And there it was, strait from the mouth of Jesus – the concept I had so badly wanted to debunk was staring me in the face.

So here is where I landed on this question that helped me move on. It was one part semantics. For me, saying this bad thing happened to show the power of God is vastly different from saying this bad thing happened so some all powerful, all knowing being could receive some sort of praise. God revealing His character through tragedy doesn’t feel self serving, but rather serves to help people realize there is a God, He cares about their pain, and He is good.

The second part of solving this equation for me came down to my own arrogance – thinking that the God who made everything I could see somehow owed me an answer. I had to accept that I do not know everything He knows and I cannot see the full scope of the picture He sees.

Do I think God causes people to suffer? Absolutely not. Do I think He uses any an all situations to show people who He is so that they might be drawn to Him? I give that a resounding Yes!

My favorite story in the Bible is the story of Lazarus. Mary and Martha are upset with Jesus because they called Jesus to save Lazarus and, since He did not come immediately, Lazarus died.

This is the story that has the shortest, but I think one of the most powerful verses in the Bible. John 11:35, “Jesus wept.”

What makes these two words so powerful is the fact that is shows the concern Jesus had for these women. Jesus knew the plan. He knew He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead, but He also know that Mary and Martha had to go through something they did not want to walk through. See, they believed Jesus could heal Lazarus so when He did not show up in the way they expected, it crushed them. The importance of Jesus crying is that He felt their pain. He hurt for them, and it is important to note that He was with them.

In the end, we are still talking about Lazarus raising from the dead today and the God that did it. Had Jesus just helped a sick friend, the story would not have the same impact.

Bad things happening to us is just the price tag of living in a fallen world. God redeems suffering so that more people will come to know him.

Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” I used to think this meant I would never have any problems, but I think it is referring to the greater good. The good that might be for someone else that comes from our pain.

That is hard to understand because it is so selfless and altruistic. However, Jesus provided to be the ultimate example of this. He suffered untold pain and, even though he was sinless, His sacrifice was part of the plan and good for everyone.

So, this is how I have come to believe that God is good. Outside circumstances tend to determine our view of God. When things are good, we see God as good. When things are bad, we wonder why He is persecuting us.

The truth is, God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. What changes are the circumstances of our life, not God. So, logic would dictate, if God is the same and He is good when things are good in my life, then He must also be good when the circumstances that surround my life are bad.

This was the biggest turning point in my faith. Learning to see God as good, even in the bad, changed my life and my relationship with Him. If you are wrestling with this issue, I hope that this World’s Biggest Small Group reading can help give you some clarity. If you have already settled this in your life, share your thoughts, because you might be able to help someone else. That is what the World’s Biggest Small Group is all about.

Notes from the Beyond Suffering Bible

Seeing Is Believing – [In John 9,] Jesus demonstrated his power over sickness and disease. We are familiar with the healing power of Jesus, but this was something special. This was not healing a small cut. Rather, this was giving sight to one who had never seen before. Today, we know that this would involve restoring neural pathways in the brain. In Jesus’ day, such healings were unheard of (9:32). This was an amazing miracle, but it also resulted in spiritual vision—faith.

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Loni
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Loni

I always wondered this but reading the story helps me alot I am a person that will give everything knowing I will fall but it doesnt bother me at all because I feel the Lords love.

Kelly Campbell
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Kelly Campbell

Thank you for your message. I knew this, that even in the bad times God is still good. But with all that is going on in the world…and in my own life, that truth gets clouded. Thanks for the reminder.

Miranda
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I’ve always believed and told others that God is good in every situation, even the bad. That we don’t always understand the reasons of these bad circumstances that happen to us. God is showing me this now and it is so much harder to believe when these bad circumstances happen to you personally, and has definitely led me to wrestle with things in my mind. I truly appreciate this story as I’m able to relate to it and help me over come this test in my life.

Caroline
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Caroline

I feel like every time I get in these low points I feel god the least. I pray and pray and pray But I never get answers.Whenever I’m not in these low points I do get answers I was wondering why this is. I feel him and I hear him whenever I’m not in the low points.