Why Do Bad Things Happen?
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 – “For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
This verse has been a comfort to me over the last few years. Let’s unpack it. The “outward man” is a reference to the physical body. Because of the fall our physical body is wasting away (literally being destroyed). When Adam sinned this became a real human condition. It is the result of sin. Do not confuse this as a result of individual sins; it is a consequence of the fall. All sickness, pain, injury, cancer, death, etc. is a result of original sin. It is real and happening to all. Our bodies are literally wasting away. As you get older trust me, you will feel it. Bad things happen in this world because of sin.
So the first thing people think is, This isn’t fair! It’s not meant to be fair. Nothing in life is fair, except God, because He is just. His system is outside of our human ideas of fairness. We say we all deserve good. The Bible says we all deserve death (Rom. 6:23). Christ took our death so that we might have life. He was perfect; we are not. He died so that we might live. That is biblical fairness. You deserve death, but you have the opportunity to receive life.
Our “inward man” is our soul, our inner being. It is who we really are. It is being renewed day by day. Everything on the outside is being destroyed, but our hope is strengthened daily. This shows us that the Christian walk is a daily and even a moment by moment walk. It’s a relationship, and relationships take commitment. The Holy Spirit is working on the inside in the midst of these outward afflictions.
As the passage continues you might think Paul has gone a bit crazy. Light and momentary affliction? How are they light? Obviously Paul has never gone through anything. I think many times when we sit and listen to people preach or the men and women of the Bible we really have trouble relating. Trust me when I say Paul has been through a lot though, just read through II Cor. 11:21-30.
What we begin to see in our passage is that every affliction and situation is preparing something for us. No, you can’t understand it, you can’t see what it’s doing but it is doing something. It’s preparing a glory that you can’t understand here on this earth. Yes, we are here for a brief time and then eternity. This momentary affliction in life is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory in eternity. Paul compares several words. Light versus weight, momentary versus eternal, and affliction versus glory. What you experience here on earth in comparison is very light compared to the glory experienced in heaven.
How do we live like this? We place our faith in Christ crucified and our eyes are taken off of us and put onto Him. Fix your eyes on Christ. Trust Him through the pain, darkness, and sorrow. We look to the things that are unseen, the eternal weight of glory, and the coming joy.
So to wrap this up, for the believer the reason “bad things” happen is to work in us a particular glory that we cannot possibly comprehend here. For the unbeliever it is to continue to draw them to salvation to continue to point out their sin. There is a reason for the things we go through. Yes, bad things happen to good people. But it is not meaningless. It’s working out something good. God either causes or allows every situation to happen. He is using it all for His glory.
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