Just because we are Christians, it does not mean we are immune to things going wrong in our life. However, there are several different reasons that might be the cause when bad things happen to us. It is helpful for us if we can understand what these reasons might be in our specific case. Four primary reasons to consider when bad things happen to us include the following:
- We are reaping the consequences of our actions.
- We are being disciplined for our sins.
- God is trying to move us in another direction.
- We are going through a trial.
- It is working together for our good.
Some of these may or may not overlap in each specific case. I will now discuss each of these in more detail.
Reaping the Consequences of Our Actions
Though most Christians are aware that God will forgive us for our sins, they sometimes fail to understand that this does not mean we escape the consequences of those sins in the here and now. For example, if someone commits adultery, God may forgive us, but that doesn’t mean our spouse is not going to leave us. Or if we steal and God forgives us, it doesn’t mean we will not have to go to jail for what we have done. Or if we are driving drunk and accidentally kill someone and God forgives us, we will still probably end up spending many years in jail. Sometimes when bad things happen to us, it is what we brought upon ourselves because of our sins.
In addition, we will also have to deal with the consequences of our actions that may not necessarily be technically sin. If we spend our money unwisely, we may find ourselves in poverty. If we fail to get insurance, we might find ourselves losing all of our livelihood. Regardless of what one thinks about tobacco, alcohol, gambling, excessive entertainment, or high-end luxury items we don’t need, if we spend our money on these things, we may find ourselves struggling to get by. If we don’t obey rules and restrictions of the community in which we live, we might find ourselves getting kicked out of our home. If we disobey traffic laws, we might get a ticket, and if we fail to take care of that, we may find ourselves in jail. If we are inconsiderate of neighbors and others, all kinds of problems might arise. And the list goes on and on.
God does not promise to deliver us from such consequences in the here and now in which our own sins and unwise or selfish choices brought them upon us. However, if we pray when bad things happen to us for this reason, God may help us fix our situation and/or give us comfort through it. In the meantime, we need to be both godly and wise in our actions and decisions.
Disciplined for Our Sins
Another cause to consider when bad things happen to us is when God is disciplining us for our sins. The Bible makes it clear that he will rebuke and discipline those that he loves (Heb 12:5; Rev 3:19). So if we are living in a particular sin and it seems like everything is going bad, then we very well might be undergoing discipline of the Lord. If this is the case, we need to stop what we are doing and repent. As Jesus warns about what can happen when we are in sin, “sin no more, lest a worse thing befall thee” (John 5:14 ASV).
God is Trying to Move us in Another Direction
Sometimes things happen to us as Christians that may appear as bad to our present circumstances. For example, one might lose a job or an important client. However, God may have brought this about because he has a different and better plan for your life. Many years ago, I had a thriving business and was making a lot of money in comfort. Suddenly, something happened that changed all that. At first, I did not find it a good thing and was worried about what I would do for steady income. Additionally, I had to cut my living expenses in a number of ways. I now do other types of work and make a lot less money; but I have more time now to dedicate to ministry, which I now know is what God wanted from me. You would probably not be reading this right now if this had not happened. There are also others times where God allowed things to happen to change directions not only in regards to my employment, but also in regards to my education, living location, etc. If we are living our life for God and obeying him, then we need to consider that God may be trying to move us in another direction, trusting that everything will work out okay since we are his children and he loves us.
We Are Going Through a Trial
Sometimes God allows us to go through a trial in order that we might learn and progress in our Christian walk. Think of Job, who didn’t do anything wrong, but experienced a trial probably greater than most people will ever experience. Through his trial, he learned important truths about God and was blessed even more at the end thereof. In addition, his trial was used as an example for all believers throughout the world since then because his ordeal became part of God’s word. If this is what is going on in our life, we need to pravy and be patient as we wait for God to deliver us.
All Things Work Together for Good
And we know that to them that love God all things work together for good, even to them that are called according to his purpose (Rom 8:28 ASV).
The verse above about all things working together for good is often quoted by my Christian brothers and sisters, but frequently an important aspect in this promise is ignored. It also says, “them that love God.” However, this is not just talking about some warm feeling in our hearts. It is important to understand that the practical application of this verse is in reference to those who are doing God’s will, not in reference to those who are living a life of sin and rebellion. To love God is to obey him: “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous” (1 John 5:3 ASV; also see John 14:15, 21; 15:10; 1 John 5:2-3; 2 John 1:6).
In other words, if we are living a life of willful sin as we please rather than obeying Christ, then this verse does not apply to what is happening to us in our own life. If this is the case, then we need to repent and turn back to God before we can expect our life to improve. If we are obeying him, then we can rest that nothing can happen to us unless God allows it for our good. I have seen this happen many times in my life even though I did not understand why it was happening at the time. We simply need to trust God and pray for his peace.
When Bad Things Happen – Final Thoughts
As I have tried to explain in this article, there are a number of possible reasons why things might appear to be going wrong in a believer’s life. Some of these reasons may overlap with the others, depending on the specific circumstances of each believer. Hopefully, this article will provide insight on what we can do and how to respond when times of struggle come our way.
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