What I am going to share is AN answer to this question. Although it is an answer that has given me peace through many losses, I also want to say that I know this is not THE ultimate answer, there are pieces missing still. I'm okay with that for now because I am still on the journey. What I have to offer is what I have learned in the face of my own loss and heartache.
The other thing I hope is that my conclusion does not seem overly simplistic, because I don't believe there IS a simple answer. I recognize that this question is usually asked with great anguish and turmoil and that finding peace and resolution is a hard fought journey that takes time.
The foundation of my answer came in the realization that God is good. G.O.O.D. Often we think of good as well-behaved, pleasant, nice, beautiful or high quality. However, God is so much more than that. With God, good refers to his moral character. He is holy and righteous, absolutely without evil. There is no evil in Him and He has not been tainted by evil in any way. He is good and all He does is good.
How did evil enter this world? God created a perfect heaven and a perfect earth. He created angelic beings to serve Him and human beings to enjoy the Earth and to experience intimate relationship with Him. One angel led a rebellion and declared himself equal to God. This angel was cast out of heaven with one third of the angels. He is the being known today as the devil. This same angelic-being-gone-bad influenced the first man and woman to disobey God. With that choice to disobey, evil, death, and destruction entered the human experience. The world and all that is in it was contaminated by sin. God has been at work ever since to redeem what is and to restore what was lost.
The one question I want to ask God when I reach heaven is, "Why was it so important for us to be able to choose? You knew all that would happen, all the pain and destruction, yet it was so very important to You that we be able to choose. Why?" I have heard answers. The most compelling to me is that God didn't want robots or puppets, but creatures like Himself who could choose - choose to love, choose right, choose good. Still, I long to hear from God Himself the answer to this question.
Human beings and all that dwell on planet Earth ARE bent and broken, tainted by sin. Our noblest motives, our most altruistic actions, our best relationships are all tainted by the evil that entered this world so many centuries ago. (C.S. Lewis' Space Trilogy helped me to understand this in a vivid way. Great reading by the way!)
Sometimes bad things happen as a result of human choice. A person chooses to drive while "under the influence" or while texting and a tragic accident happens. People engage in dangerous activities and a rope breaks, a tree gets in the way, a tire blows and life is irrevocably altered. Government officials make poor political choices and an entire country suffers because of it.
Sometimes bad things happen as a result of disease that entered the world as a consequence of sin. People battle illness and sometimes the battle is won and sometimes it is lost, each the result of a myriad of interwoven factors such as physical condition, treatment options available, the patient's will to fight, the severity of the disease, and the skill of the doctors.
Sometimes bad things happen because all of creation is under the curse of sin. A tsunami or earthquake destroys property and claims lives, a drought causes crops to fail leading to hunger and malnutrition. Even these "acts of nature" are not what God created the world to be, but what it has become because of the damage of sin.
Bad things happening is the expected outcome of living in a world bent and broken by sin.
Our HOPE is that God will make good out of the bad. He is good. He can only produce good. Bad things will happen in life because of sin. But God promises to work those bad things into something good for those who love Him.
One of my favorite authors, George MacDonald (contemporary of Charles Dickens and admired by C.S. Lewis), has a theme flowing through his writings - that God wants to make us good. I think that perhaps too often we look outside ourselves for the good that we would like God to bring about, when He desires to bring about good IN us, to make us good.
One of the good things God brings about is building our character as we learn to respond to bad things in ways that reflect Christ. Another good God produces is to strengthen our faith and to help us come to know Him better. God may also work good by helping people to know Christ, by bringing truth to light so that health can be found, by giving a deeper appreciation for life and loved ones, by teaching lessons that change the course of life in a positive direction. The possibilities are endless for what God can do to bring good out of the bad things that happen.
Our other hope is heaven, that one day we will live in a place where mourning and tears are wiped away, where bad things no longer happen. We have the hope that we will forever dwell with God in a perfect place and in unity with God and mankind. In heaven we will see the final redemption of what has been lost and restoration to what was intended to be.
May you find hope and peace on your journey and may you have vision to see the good that God is bringing about.
What are your thoughts about all this?
What good things have you seen come out of bad situations?