Over the past couple weeks there have been people in my life who have lost close loved ones. I saw a dear friend recently who is in her 50’s whose husband has terminal stage 4 cancer. I have a best friend who is a young mom who is dealing with the difficulties of raising young children and the harsh critiques from others. I have a friend who was finally going to be relieved from a difficult job position only to hear that the person coming in decided not to accept. Why do bad things keep happening?

To be honest, none of these people have done anything to “deserve” hardships, but they all have two things in common. They all are sinners living in a fallen world, and they all have Jesus as their Savior.

This past weekend as we served college students at a fall retreat, the speaker talked about James 1. He shared how we will encounter trials on this earth. When we ask why bad things continues to take place, it is imperative that we remind ourselves of James 1:2-4 which says, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

1. Bad Things Happen Because We Live in a Sin-Filled World

Maybe you feel overwhelmed by trials and hardships lately. Perhaps you believe everything is going all wrong? We can have hope and confidence that even in difficulties, we can have strength in Christ. John 16:33 says, I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” God warns us that we will have troubles. We have challenges for many reasons, one being the fact that humanity sinned and darkness entered into the world. The chaos around you might very well just be a result of the fall.

Unfortunately, sometimes bad things happen to us because we are hurt by the sinful choices of others. The decisions of other people can negatively impact our own lives and vice-versa. We think of all kinds of abuse, racism, sexism, bullying, affairs, divorce, and gossip to name a few. Sometimes we find ourselves in the line of fire of someone else’s poor decisions. Christ is with us though, even then.

2. Bad Things Happen Because We Make Sinful Choices

There are times in our lives when our struggles are a direct consequence from our sinful behaviors and decisions. Not every trial is a result of personal sin, but some are connected. For instance, if you have an unwanted pregnancy, the decision was made that got you to that point. Or if someone started regularly overeating and the doctor shared that they needed to lose some weight, that was a result of their choices. Or perhaps a spouse decides to view pornography, then there is strain on their marriage because of that sin.

Our choices have impacts on our lives. We reap what we sow. The grace of God is that He can even use these hard situations to bring forth His glory, if we invite Him into our messes.

Galatians 6:7-8 says, “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.”

3. Bad Things Happen Because God Is Refining Us

This concept is always a difficult one. Sometimes the very thorns and pains in our lives are allowed by the Lord to bring Him glory and to refine us into His image. We can easily think of Job. He was a man who followed the Lord, yet hard things happened in his life as a result of the hand of God allowing it. In the challenges and losses, Job clung to the Lord and never cursed Him. He was faithful and proved to love God first with all of who He was, even in the uncertainty.

I love Job 23:10 which says, “But He knows the way that I take; When He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold.” The Lord knows our path and He does bring tests into our lives. Our hope is that through His strength in us, we can “come forth as gold.” We can look more like Jesus after the test is over.

I think about Paul who had a “thorn in his side.” He begged God to take it away, but ultimately the Lord allowed it to be there to help Paul cling to Him and glorify Him in the midst of his weakness.

2 Corinthians 12:7-9 says, “So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

Whether you are seeing the negative results of sin in the fallen world, the hurtful choices of others that are impacting you, or God is testing you to be refined, bad things do happen and will happen here on the earth. We do not have to be surprised when hard times occur because we are clearly told in Scripture that they will happen. We do not have to like the trial or look forward to hardship. Even Jesus asked God the Father to take away the cross before Him because He knew it would be hard (Luke 22:42). However, He said, “Not my will, but Yours.” Jesus still endured the cross, but He came out on the other side alive and freed us.

5 Verses to Cling To

Below are some encouraging Scriptures to cling to in hard times. God love you so much and He is with you and is never leaving you in this trial without His presence.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”

Psalm 34:18 “The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”

Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

James 1:12 “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.”

Romans 8:18 “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”

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Photo credit: ©Getty Images/KatarzynaBialasiewicz

Emma DanzeyEmma Danzey’s mission in life is to inspire young women to embrace the extraordinary. One of her greatest joys is to journey with the Lord in His Scriptures. Emma is a North Carolina resident and green tea enthusiast! She is married to her husband Drew and they serve international college students. She enjoys singing, dancing, trying new recipes, and watching home makeover shows. During her ministry career, Emma recorded two worship EP albums, founded and led Polished Conference Ministries, ran the Refined Magazine, and served in music education for early childhood. Currently, she is in the editing stages of her first two writing projects: a Bible study on womanhood and a non-fiction book on singleness. You can visit her blog at emmadanzey.wordpress.com