Why do BAD things happen to GOOD people?
The Preacher and the Atheist
Author Unknown

A preacher and an atheist barber were once walking through the city slums. Said the barber to the preacher: “This is why I cannot believe in a God of love. If God was as kind as you say, He would not permit all this poverty, disease, and squalor. He would not allow these poor bums to be addicted to dope and other character-destroying habits. No, I cannot believe in a God who permits these things.”

The minister was silent until they met a man who was especially unkempt and filthy. His hair was hanging down his neck and he had a half-inch of stubble on his face. Said the minister: “You must not be a very good barber because you wouldn’t permit a man like that to continue living in this neighborhood without a haircut and shave.” Indignantly the barber answered: “Why blame me for that man’s condition? I can’t help it that he is like that. He has never come in my shop; I could fix him up and make him look like a gentleman!”

Giving the barber a penetrating look, the minister said: “Then don’t blame God for allowing the people to continue in their evil ways, when He is constantly inviting them to come and be saved.”

Why do BAD things happen to “GOOD” people?  

It is the most commonly asked question among those who don’t know Christ? And I get that…I mean, how do you reconcile all the devastation that has occurred in the past couple of months across the country? Perhaps you’ve even experienced personal loss and wondered how such a powerful, mighty and loving God would ever allow such horrible things to happen. To be honest with you, I don’t have a clear answer. However, I do know that there is a God and I am not him…and I do know that there is a reason and a purpose behind everything that happens.
Here I am!
Consider the story of Adam and Eve

God creates a perfect place for Adam and Eve…you might say that he’s literally given them everything under the sun. He then gives them very specific instructions – he specifically tells them they can eat of every single tree that is in this garden – with the exception of one tree: the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” 

In hindsight, God made it incredibly easy for Adam – in my profession, I often tell my clients to create opportunities in which your people can be successful. I really feel like God created an opportunity for Adam and Eve to be successful. And this success would have had incredible implications for us as a human race moving forward. He tells them that all they have to do is stay away from this one tree. He tells them that they can literally eat from every other tree that is in this garden. And while we don’t know how many other trees they could have chosen from, I’d like to believe that they had a lot of other options. All they had to do was to obey God’s one direct command as it relates to the tree of knowledge of good and evil. 

Interestingly enough, in this perfect place, God also allows Satan to tempt Adam and Eve into disobeying his command. God essentially sits back and watches to see how the story will unfold. Of course, most of us know the story. Adam and Eve did not obey. In fact, they completely blew it…not only for themselves, but for every person following them.  

God’s original plan for us was that we NOT have the “knowledge” of evil by engaging in it! Once we’ve engaged or entered into a specific sin –we then  have the “knowledge” of it…and thus the pain and suffering that are consequence of it. God gives us that choice.

Does that make sense? What if we consider ourselves as parents (not that I have children…but I think we can all imagine being parents)? Have you ever allowed your children to experience pain? Sometimes we have to allow some level of “pain” to occur to teach a specific lesson or so that our children will learn the consequences of their actions…much like Adam and Eve. 

I don’t believe that God intentionally puts us in harm’s way to prove a point (although I may be wrong). However, I do believe that we’re given free will. Much like Adam and Eve, we (collective we, not necessarily any one human being) don’t always obey God’s will for us and there are consequences. However, in Jeremiah 31:1 he says, I have loved you with an everlasting love,” and because he loves us…much like a parent, he can’t simply remove all of our pain and suffering. But, much like the homeless man on the street…if we accept him into our lives, he can do great things in us and through us.

C.S. Lewis once said, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”  With that said, is God whispering, speaking or shouting into your ears right now? Furthermore…how are you responding?

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” – John 3:16-18.  
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Disclosure: the above message was adapted from my church’s sermon last weekend. To listen to the original message, click HERE (Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People).


    You make very good points! I have heard so many none Christian people say things like that. As a teen it can be very hard to answer something like that.

    A tough one to answer. But very thought provoking.

    This is just amazing. You are so good at articulating your thoughts. I have started a post similar to this so many times and just give up because I feel so overwhelmed. Thanks for this!

    Awesome post….love the barber story… And I tell my non believeing friends, that I would rather believe and be wrong then face the alternative….LOL.

    I have seen miracles.. I have had miracles in my own life, and I KNOW there is but one GOD!I hope that I live a life that reflects that great love for others to see.

    I started following your blog for the photo challenges and amazing images…I stayed for the heart of a Christian Woman who is sharing the word and speaking from the heart. Thank you for letting me be a part of your blog world. Blessings!

    Thank you for this. I’m sharing this post on my facebook page, hoping that the one or two of my friends with whom I’ve had this conversation will read it…you put it beautifully.

    That was an interesting story.
    I have two answers to this question.
    First, the question itself is based off of a false premise; the Bible says there are none who are good.

    Second, I’d say the same thing you did – God is in control and He has a purpose in whatever happens, although we often can’t see what that purpose is.

    These are the times to cling to Him even more.

    When my mom died 2+ years ago of cancer, even though I was sad, I knew where she was going and that all would be well.

    I love this topic, even though I think it’s a hard one to come to terms with. In a perfect world, nothing would ever go wrong for good people.
    But my priest and I had a talk about this recently. I asked him, “Doesn’t God want us to have everything we wish for in life?” (Silly question, I know) and his resounding answer was, “NO!” God wants us to find salvation through Him. And sometimes we have to go through tough times to reap the reward later. He said that God was molding us like steel – sometimes it has to be dipped in the fire and pounded to make it even stronger and better.

    great post – my pastor is always reminding us that when God disciplines us, we must remember that we don’t just discipline other people’s children, we discipline our own. We have to remember that it is His mark of Fatherhood, we belong to Him! Even when it doesn’t feel good, we esp have to remember that just like we discipline our children to prevent further pain and destruction, He is doing it FOR our good!

    Lovely post…I so enjoyed reading.


    I like the story about the Preacher and the Atheist, but it’s not quite the same message as the title of the post. For that, I am reminded of James 1:2-3 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” and 1 Peter 1:6-7 “In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith — of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire — may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”

    This is something that I have struggled with, but you really laid it out here. I don’t have to understand why God lets certain things happen, but I do need to have faith.

    Marla @ http://www.blueskiesphotoblog.com

    I believe everything happens for a reason and there is something to be learned from everything. Some trials are harder to weather than others, but either way we are loved. Your image is great by the way!

    thank you for the great post, it was a pleasure to read it and think about it…

    I love that barber story!

    It is so hard to understand why things happen, but God’s purpose and plan is so much greater than we can understand. Sometimes the hardship that we endure is tough to swallow, but I think its a great test of faith. I think God is always testing our faith.

    The barber/priest story really drives the point home. This whole topic is so hard to understand at times, but personally when I’m at a low, it’s God I turn too, and not to blame. Great post, Ashley.

    Your place is beautiful, and I always enjoy my visits here. Plus, great CS Lewis quote. Ugh, he was so wise!

    Love love love this post. And something I needed to read so much. It’s funny how I always stumble upon these amazing articles you write (please never stop!) just when I need them the most. God can dream a bigger dream for us than we can ever imagine, so I like to think of that when I’m going through something tough or trying to understand how he allows suffering. It is all divine and has a purpose and in the end, hopefully leads people to Him!

    Beautifully said.