The short answer is “Because godly people live in a sin cursed broken world”.
I don’t claim to know all of God’s ways. I do know some things he has clearly revealed to us in Scripture. For instance, Jesus promised his disciples that “in the world” they would “have tribulation” (John 16:33) And when Jesus told his own how they would be treated in his absence it was anything but smooth sailing. He promised they would be persecuted just as believers before them had been. (Matthew 5:11-13).
Today’s Christians, especially in the United States, have been exposed to years of false teaching by word of faith preachers. In our TV market there are three or four networks of programming that with few exceptions feature men and women who declare that God’s will for you and me is that we have a high paying job, that we not be sick, that our children behave well, and that our bank accounts be full. This teaching is so pervasive that it has crept into mainstream pulpits as well. It should be no surprise then that when Christians fall on hard times their first response is one of two things or both. They believe they have done something wrong, or they believe that God is not pleased with them. False teaching is so common that I have heard invitations for people to come to Christ with the promise of a better life here on earth. The truth is, following Jesus might well make day-to-day circumstances worse. A life of devotion to Christ may not end well…here on earth.
When Jesus warned his disciples that trouble was in their future He also told them “fear not, I have overcome the world” and to”rejoice and be glad because great is your reward in heaven“. Jesus and the Apostles left little doubt that Christians are not exempt from trouble in the world.
In Romans 8 there is enough truth for a seminary course on Christian theology. It breaks down like this.
Romans 8:1-11 – No condemnation for those who are in Christ. The Spirit frees us from sin and enables us to live righteously and will give life to our dead bodies at the resurrection.
Romans 8:12-17 – The presence of the Holy Spirit is God’s assurance that we have been adopted as sons, that we share in Christ’s inheritance, and that we will someday be glorified as he has been.
Romans 8:18-39 – Is a great panorama of truth about suffering as Christians, a lengthy explanation of why we can expect trouble in the world, the Holy Spirit’s role in the midst of suffering and tribulations, and that our salvation is certain and not conditioned upon circumstances.
Near the end of this great chapter are these remarkable words.
31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord
Oh how I hope each person who reads this post will carefully and thoughtfully read these verses and depend on them to be true in the circumstances of your life. There are some things we need to remember and trust with all our might.
1. God is for us! God is for us without regard to our circumstances. In good times and in troubles, God is consistently for us. We must never doubt this. Even when we sin, even when it’s our sin that puts us at a disadvantage, God is for us. He doesn’t ever approve of our sins but he never stops being for us.
2. Expect trouble. Christians die with cancer, their kids are killed in auto accidents, their spouses abandon them, they face all sorts of tribulation and distress including persecution, hunger, not having enough clothes to wear, and even violent death.
3. God is still for us! Did you catch verse 37? “.. IN all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. It is not when things are going along smoothly that we can know God is for us (and he is..) but IN the middle of our worst trouble we are conquerors.
Here’s the skinny. This life of following Jesus is a fixed deal. Even when by all acceptable standards you are a loser you still win! God is FOR YOU!
Bad things happen to good people so our heavenly Father can receive even more glory. His strength is only on display in the midst of our worst weaknesses. So don’t be discouraged when trouble comes but rather rejoice! God loves you, God is for you.