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?" - Romans 8:32

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Wednesday, October 07, 2009 

Why Do Good Things Happen to Bad People?

They don’t, with only one exception. All the bad things, with one exception, that have ever happened have happened to bad people, which makes the question moot. The only time a bad thing happened to a good person was at Calvary, and the Good Person volunteered for the bad thing, for that which was set before Him. That leaves us with a much more honest question- why bad things happen to bad people. With respect to those outside the kingdom, the simple answer is this- justice. That is, no one on this side of death has ever experienced suffering that was fitting with their sin. All those outside the kingdom experience, no matter how difficult their lives might be, grace on this side of death. Every sin we commit is worthy of eternal torment. Even the worst suffering here on earth is temporal torment.

Why then do difficult things happen to redeemed people? As I write my wife has recently been found to have cancer on her spine. That cancer has led to a compression fracture in her back. Far worse, today we learned that the woman who committed to bless us with her unborn child has reneged on her commitment. She reneged even before we could inform her of my dear wife’s health issues. Why did God bring this to pass? The short answer, which is true despite accusations that it is pat, is for our good and God’s glory. The redeemed never experience hard providences because of justice. That which is due to me, my wife and my children has been paid two thousand years ago on Calvary. Justice was served at exactly the one time that a bad thing happened to a good Person. For us, then, every hardship is not the even-ing of the scales of justice, but the labors of our Father to cause us to grow in grace and wisdom.

I am, to be frank, reeling under these hard providences. I am watching my wife suffer, and going through the adoption equivalent of a still-born child. But I am standing because I know my heavenly Father, who loves me with a perfect love, is about the business of making me and those I love more like Jesus. I am at peace because I know that what I suffer is far less than I objectively deserve, all because Jesus suffered exactly what I objectively deserve. The great mystery is not that I should suffer. That makes perfect sense given my sins. The great mystery is the great mercy that I receive. Why have I been blessed with a heroic wife? Why have I been blessed with a covenant community like Saint Peter church? Why do I have such God honoring, God reflecting olive plants around my dinner table in my children? Because once a bad thing happened to a good Man.

I am grateful for the prayers of God’s people. I am needful of those prayers. Please pray that Denise would be strong and healthy. Please pray that the birth mom who committed to bless us with her child would carry out that commitment. But my heart’s desire is that all who so pray would learn these simple truths- that we suffer less than what we deserve, and that this is so because Christ suffered for us. Give thanks that a bad thing happened to a Good Person. And pray for grace for bad people like us.


- by R.C. Sproul, Jr.

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  • From Exiled
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