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Blog - Why Bad Things Happen to Good People - An Economic Analogy

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When a tragedy happens in our lives (a loved one dies, a baby is born with a disease, we lose a job, etc.) we often ask, "Why did this happen to me?" or "Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?".

The short answer is that the cause of all death and suffering is sin, as the scripture saith, "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:" (Rom 5:12). Because of sin, both the first man Adam's and our own, this world is under the "bondage of corruption" (Rom 8:21) and "we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now" (Rom 8:22). Suffering comes with the sinful package.

We Christians know and accept that suffering in general is the result of sin. But often the question for us is not so much why the world suffers because of sin, but why I or those close to me suffer because of sin. Sometimes we, or those close to us, suffer because of judgment for our own sin, and the Bible is full of examples of that (Jonah, David, Lot's wife, Israel, etc.). We understand that we reap what we sow (Gal 6:7-8) and God takes vengeance and judges His people (Heb 10:30). But what about those times when we or a loved one suffers, and we can find no direct correlation between it and a sin that we committed? Why would the suffering that is allotted to mankind in general for sin happen to me when I didn't do anything specific to merit it? Why did my child get killed in a car accident instead of someone else's child? Why was I diagnosed with cancer instead of someone else in this fallen world?

Let's see if an analogy from economics might help. If a person goes out and buys a house and cars that he can't afford and runs up a credit card, and consequently goes bankrupt, any reasonable person can see a cause and effect relationship between the man's actions and the resulting judgment. This would be tantamount to a person suffering for a sin he committed, and this analogy is not far off because in the Bible sin is referred to as debt (Mat 6:12 c/w Luk 11:4).

Now suppose that one lives in a country in which the government and the people in general are deep in debt. Suppose the government runs trillion dollar deficits each year to finance their military industrial complex which is used to police the world, entitlement program ponzi schemes, socialized healthcare, and socialized education and housing in the form of government guaranteed loans. Suppose that in order to finance all this cradle-to-grave government and military adventurism, the government must borrow huge sums of money from other nations, and in order to be able to pay just the interest on it, that government's central bank must keep interest rates artificially low by printing large quantities of digital money that is not worth the paper it's not printed on, and then use it to buy government bonds and mortgage backed securities. Suppose that these artificially low interest rates send false signals to the market which causes malinvestment and asset bubbles (tech, housing, and bond bubbles, for instance). Suppose that this boom and bust business cycle created by cheap money eventually causes these bubbles to burst and the result is massive unemployment and you lose your job. Suppose that during all this monetary and fiscal insanity, you were being wise and prudent and living below your means and saving money. Your question would then be, "Why did I lose my job when I wasn't the one living irresponsibly?".

Do you see the parallel now? There was a general judgment across the economy that was precipitated by the economic sins of the population at large, and that judgment happened to fall on you and cause you to lose your job, but didn't fall on your neighbor who might not have been living as prudently as you. The suffering due to losing your job that you encountered was not a direct result of an economic sin you committed, but rather you were collateral damage in the economy suffering at large.

The same thing happens in life with regard to suffering for sin. Sometimes God allows bad things to happen to good people due to no fault of their own such as John the Baptist and James who were both killed, being innocent (Mar 6:27; Act 12:1-2). God can allow this kind of evil to happen because the human race is under sin. Sometimes God allows evil and suffering to happen to someone due to no specific sin on their or their parents' part just so the works of God can be made manifest in that person, such as He did for the man who was born blind (Joh 9:1-3).

That's just life in this world: sometimes good and bad happen to good and bad people alike. So the next time evil befalls you and you are suffering due to no perceivable cause of your own, remember the following scriptures from Solomon:

Ecc 2:15 - Then said I in my heart, As it happeneth to the fool, so it happeneth even to me; and why was I then more wise? Then I said in my heart, that this also is vanity.

Ecc 7:15 - All things have I seen in the days of my vanity: there is a just man that perisheth in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man that prolongeth his life in his wickedness.

Ecc 8:14 - There is a vanity which is done upon the earth; that there be just men, unto whom it happeneth according to the work of the wicked; again, there be wicked men, to whom it happeneth according to the work of the righteous: I said that this also is vanity.

Ecc 9:2 - All things come alike to all: there is one event to the righteous, and to the wicked; to the good and to the clean, and to the unclean; to him that sacrificeth, and to him that sacrificeth not: as is the good, so is the sinner; and he that sweareth, as he that feareth an oath.

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