Daily Worship

Why do bad things happen to good people?

Jane Denniston June 24, 2021 0 1
Image credit: Unsplash
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Job 38: 1-11 (NIVUK)

1 Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm. He said:

2 ‘Who is this that obscures my plans
    with words without knowledge?
3 Brace yourself like a man;
    I will question you,
    and you shall answer me.

4 ‘Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?
    Tell me, if you understand.
5 Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!
    Who stretched a measuring line across it?
6 On what were its footings set,
    or who laid its cornerstone –
7 while the morning stars sang together
    and all the angels shouted for joy?

8 ‘Who shut up the sea behind doors
    when it burst forth from the womb,
9 when I made the clouds its garment
    and wrapped it in thick darkness,
10 when I fixed limits for it
    and set its doors and bars in place,
11 when I said, “This far you may come and no farther;
    here is where your proud waves halt”?

Job’s story questions our response to suffering. Do we blame God for misfortune? And yet misfortune is the lot of humankind. Bad things happen to us because life is like that. Over the last year we’ve observed the arbitrary nature of suffering as the coronavirus has indiscriminately wrecked so many lives; through contracting the virus, or losing someone to the virus, or the effects of lockdown. For many of us the future may look bleak, uncertain, without security, as it did for Job. In response, are we tempted to rail against God? Do we get angry with him for allowing this to happen to us? God’s answer to Job is instructive. Who are we to question the creator of the universe? The lesson of Job is that if God wishes to visit suffering upon us, he has the right. However, the lesson doesn’t end there. Job asks, in our relationship with God what matters most? Is it our human dignity, or the recognition that God is supreme? What do we want to say to God? Do we want to cry out to him, berate him, beg him, plead with him, submit to him? He hears us. Do we recognise, in spite of our feelings of hurt, his sovereignty? And as we question, with Job, are our ears and our hearts open to hearing his response? Are we awake to his love which does not abandon us to our fate, but walks with us through the shadowed valley? He too has walked a hard road – Jesus, God with us.




God, you are worthy of all praise.

You set sun, moon, and stars in the heavens

and created the sea and the dry land.

When we consider your creation

who are we that you should remember us?

When we consider your majesty

how dare we question you?

Yet we know, Lord,

that when you act you act for our good.


We know that when evil strikes,

your heart breaks with ours.

Help us to be open to your working in our lives.

To recognise your hand

and distinguish it

from the random touch of fate

which harms and heals without fear or favour.

Help us to be grateful for the good you give us

and be open to you when we are in need, Amen