Sermon 78 - DO BAD THINGS REALLY HAPPEN TO GOOD PEOPLE?

by Douglas Amobi

The obvious answer to the question above may seem to be a resounding "Yes." However, in this sermon, I will use some examples to illustrate that events and circumstances that we consider to be negative could lead to the fulfillment of the master plan of God for our lives. Job First, let's consider the story of the precious hymn writer, Fanny Crosby:

Fanny Crosby was born on March 24, 1820 in New York and died on February 12, 1915 in Connecticut after over 94 years. She once said, " MOTHER, IF I HAD A CHOICE, I would still choose to remain blind . . . for when I die, the first face I will ever see will be the face of my blessed Saviour." Blind for all of her life, Fanny Crosby, the greatest hymn writer in the history of the Christian Church, later wrote, "And I shall see Him face to face, and tell the story--saved by grace." Though blind, she witnessed over 8,000 of her poems set to music and over 100,000,000 copies of her songs printed. Fanny gave the Christian world such songs as: A Shelter in the Time of Storm; All the Way My Saviour Leads Me, Blessed Assurance; Close to Thee; He Hideth My Soul; I Am Thine O Lord; Jesus Is Calling; My Saviour First of All; Near the Cross; Pass Me Not; Praise Him Praise Him; Redeemed; Rescue the Perishing; Safe in the Arms of Jesus and much more. Her father, John, was never to be remembered by Fanny, for he died in her twelfth month of life. When Fanny was six weeks old, she caught a slight cold in her eyes. The family physician was away. Another country doctor was called in to treat her. He prescribed hot mustard poultices to be applied to her eyes, which destroyed her sight completely! It was later learned that the man was not qualified to practice medicine, but it was too late to prosecute him, because he had left town and was never heard from again. Fanny never felt any resentment against him, but believed it was permitted by the Lord. At five years old, she was taken by her mother to consult the best eye specialist in the country, who said "Poor child, I am afraid you will never see again." Fanny did not think she was poor. It was not the loss of sight that bothered her young heart. It was the thought that she would never be able to get an education like other boys and girls. Surprisingly, at the age of eight, she wrote her first recorded poetry:

Her mother was kind but busy making a living for both of them, so it was her grandmother who became an unforgettable influence in her life. She introduced Fanny to the Bible and this book now became more familiar to her than any other. She began to devour the Scriptures. It is said that, as a child, she could repeat from memory the Pentateuch, the book of Ruth, many of the Psalms, the books of Proverbs, Song of Solomon, and much of the New Testament! This furnished the themes, inspiration, and diction for her imperishable gospel hymns. Near her 15th birthday came a happy announcement that her mother could send her to a new school. The Institution for the Blind in New York City. Fanny clapped her hands joyfully and cried, "O thank God, He has answered my prayer, just as I knew He would." With all of her apparent devotion to Christ already shared in so many ways, it was hard to believe that she was not converted until 1851, at age 31. This glorious beginning happened at a revival service held at the old John Street Methodist Church in New York which she joined.

Romance came into the life of Fanny Crosby, also. As early as age 20 she fell in love with another blind student by the name of Alexander VanAlstyne. He was especially fond of music and was captivated by her poems. She, likewise, was fascinated by his sweet strains of music.

From that hour, two lives looked on a new universe, for love, met love and all the world was changed. They were no longer blind, for the light of love showed where the lilies bloomed, and where the crystal waters found the moss-mantled spring. Finally, on March 5, 1858, she was married at age 37. Life was just beginning for Fanny Crosby, for her life's ministry was still ahead. The marriage was a happy one with VanAlstyne, who lived until 1902. The couple had one child, only to be taken in death while yet a baby. Perhaps this incident helped inspire Fanny to write, Safe in the Arms of Jesus, which was to comfort thousands of grief-stricken parents suffering a similar fate. Upon her marriage, she intended to use the name Mrs. VanAlstyne, but her husband insisted that she continue to use her maiden name, which was already quite famous. At age 71 she attended a prayer meeting at which Dr. Howard Crosby spoke. He talked on the 23rd Psalm using "Grace" as his subject. That very same week, he died suddenly, and Fanny said to herself, "I wonder what my first impression of heaven will be?" A moment later, she suddenly answered her own question. "When my eyes will be opened and I will see my Saviour face to face. At age 90 she declared, "My love for the Holy Bible and its sacred truth is stronger and more precious to me at ninety than at nineteen." Asked about her long years, she said her secret was that she guarded her taste, her temper and her tongue. On her last night, she dictated a letter of comfort to a sorrowing friend, whose daughter had recently died. At three o'clock the next morning, Mrs. Booth who was taking care of her, found Fanny unconscious. She slipped away to the loving Saviour just short of her 95th birthday. Remember she was blind all her life.

I have heard so much how people ask, "why do bad things happen to good people?"This statement can be interpreted in many ways, but there are basic questions that need to be addressed first, as to come to a good conclusion. The word good, can be used in many ways to refer to people who are morally acceptable, but remember that all our righteousness is like a filthy rag (Isaiah 64:6) More importantly Jesus Christ our Lord said in the book of Mark 10:17-18-, "that none is good but one, that is God." There is therefore no truth in saying anyone is good; it is relative and only God's standard can be used. Only God is good.

Also there are a lot of afflictions that people go through including Christians while on earth. Afflictions do happen to people. Sometimes these afflictions come on us because of our own wrong choices, decisions and desires. The bible says when you are afflicted pray; James 5:13-16.

The bible in Romans 8:28 said, "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose." When the bible said all things, it means all things including afflictions. These things according to the bible works for our own good. To us some of these things work for our good even when pain, loss, sorrow and suffering are involved. Trials and tests may look grievous for today and some of those things we consider bad things. These bad things may be seen so for the moment but the end of it is important. Let us consider the following people and their lives.
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  1. Jeroboam's son is an example to look at, the bible did not even give us his name, he was still a child. God picked Jeroboam to rule ten tribes of Israel by the mouth of the prophet Ahijah. But when he became king he forgot both the prophet and God and manufactured his own gods and prophets. Bad things began to happen to his family, and his son became sick. His son was sick unto death, the son was suffering and there was no help in the various gods and prophets of Jeroboam's manufacture. This little son of the king may have asked the question why me, why am I sick, why can I not be healed, why is this bad thing happening to me? But guess what, human reasoning sees his sickness as a bad thing, but read 1st King 14:1-13; and you will see that what may be bad in human thought is a blessing from God. About the sick child, God said the child will die by the word of the prophet. The child died but verse 13 of this chapter tells all of humanity, the blessing behind the child's sickness; it reads, "And all Israel shall mourn for him, and bury him: FOR HE ONLY OF JEROBOAM SHALL COME TO THE GRAVE, because in him there is found some good thing towards the Lord God of Israel in the house of Jeroboam." All other members of the family and seed of Jeroboam God said will die young, he who dies in the city will the dogs eat and those that die in the field the fowls of the air will eat. This child got a good burial. Not all things we consider bad are true. Remember the scripture says,"All things work together for good . . . according to his purpose." The next person is the prophet Ahijah was prophesied about the king and his child.

  2. Lest I forget, Ahijah was a prophet who was in communication with God. He became blind due to age and God could have healed him and given him his sight back; but did not. God still spoke to him and gave answers to issues, but did not restore his sight. You may ask why, but the grace of God was and is always sufficient for us. All things work together for the good of those saved by Christ. When you are saved, the grace of God will always see you through; those things we consider bad may be blessings.

  3. King Josiah is another person of interest in this sermon. He was the grandson of Manasseh one of the worst kings of Judah. Manasseh did so much evil as to provoke the Lord to proclaim he would cast Judah and Jerusalem out of his sight, and was not backing off. When you read 2nd Kings 22:19-20, you will see that God is good and makes faithful promises. The Lord confirmed he was going to judge Judah, because of the deeds of Manasseh; but because of the godly heart of Josiah, God also promised in verse 20, "I will gather thee unto thy fathers, and thou shalt be gathered into thy grave in peace; and thine eyes shall not see all the evil which I will bring upon this place." Josiah had this promise but when he aligned himself and meddled in war with heathens, the kings of Egypt and Assyria, he died in war at Megiddo. You may ask why did this bad thing happen to King Josiah. God promised him peaceful journey to his grave, he died in battle but was carried safely to the grave in Jerusalem. He may have died young and suddenly but he pleased God. Josiah had to depart for God's judgment for the sins of Manasseh to come to pass and Josiah was blessed not to see it. Shortly after the translation, those left on earth will see that those who died before were in a way blessed, when the judgment of the great tribulation begins to happen. Then you will see that no matter what happens to you, no matter how bad it may be and look; remember the saying, that ALL THINGS WORK TOGETHER FOR YOUR GOOD, IF YOU ARE A TRUE BELIEVER IN CHRIST JESUS, and that all is well.

  4. Job is another individual to examine. He was a man who had everything you can think of; adult children and all doing well. He loved the Lord and did all the right things before God and man. One day the devil took permission from God to test Job. It was very serious. People who think bad things are happening or has happened to them should think again. Today certain things happen to people that may be bad things and of their own making. Read Job 1:14-22, and you will see what can be considered bad things; his servants died, sons and daughters died in one day, flock of sheep died. In verse 21, Job did not query or question God but said, "Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord." In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly. Job was attacked further by the devil with personal sores and boils all over the body. Read this Job 2:7-8, "Job had sore boils from the sole of his foot unto the crown of his head; and he took him a potsherd to scrape himself withal; and he sat down among the ashes." Does this look bad for a man who loved the Lord and the Lord testified to it in Job 1:8? What testimony does God have of you? When you think this was bad, one more thing happened. The only thing left to Job was his wife and his trust in God; then his wife struck in Job 2:9 when she said, "Doest thou still retain thine integrity? curse God and die." The situation with Job was really bad but Job had that unspoken quality of knowing that, all things work together for good. Job answered his wife saying in verse 10, " Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil. In all this did not Job sin, with his lips."

  5. Apostle Paul is a man who had bad things happen to him. He was stoned, flogged, in prison, slapped, shipwrecked, and much more. All that Paul ever did was work on making people come to the true way of salvation by Jesus Christ. Who can forget Acts of the Apostles 27:10-end and 28:3-6, Paul survived the shipwreck only to be bitten by a venomous beast (snake).He did not die as the people expected as he shook of the snake into the fire and suffered no harm. Bad things may seem to happen to good people in the eyes of men; but this was an opportunity to show the power of God as documented in verses 8-9. All things work together for good, remember Romans 8:28
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    When you think something bad is or has happened to you, think again, you may not know the purpose of God and you do not know the final outcome. Who are we to bring our conditions to question, we should learn not to lean unto our own understanding but commit all our ways unto the Lord, Psalm 37; and keep Romans 8:28 always in mind and meditate on them. Praise the Lord, and in everything give thanks to God.

  7. Who can forget about Joseph the son of Jacob, the grandson of Isaac and the great grandson of Abraham. He came from the great line of faith and trust in God. God often communicated with him and talked to him about many things. He was prophetic and trusted the Lord, even no sin was recorded against him, he was human ,so he was not sinless. Yet so called bad things happened to him. He was sold by his brethren into slavery; he was wrongly accused of attempted rape, and sent to jail. He never saw his father and family members for several years; sold away to a strange land and in prison. Where was God one may ask? Read Genesis 45:1-15; If you think bad things happen to good people, think again because all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. When you think that bad things are happening to you hold fast to the word of God. Remember and meditate on the word of God. He has his plan for all who accept him, Jesus the Christ.

  8. Our Lord Jesus Christ had bad things happen to him also. What evil could be found in the life of Jesus Christ when he came to earth. He helped the poor, healed the sick, restored sight to the blind, healed the deaf and dumb, cast out demons, raised the dead, fed people and gave men who believed eternal life. With all these , they called him of the devil, accused him falsely, slapped and betrayed him, crucified him; all these were works of wickedness. How bad can things be for a person. Bad things happened to Jesus Christ but he did not go cursing, swearing or questioning why? All things work together for good; remember this scripture ALWAYS, Romans 8:28. He suffered for to be our savior, Lord and God.