Why God Allows Bad Things to Happen

(Text: Romans 8:26-39)

Have you ever wondered why God allows bad things to happen to his people? Well, God uses all of our circumstances to work for our good when we have faith. In other words, when we are Christ-like, God can take the negative circumstances of our lives and use them for our good, especially if using them for good fulfills his will for our lives. It’s like an oyster taking a grain of sand-something that irritates the oyster-and turning it into something of great value-a pearl.

Take Joseph, for example. He was sold into slavery by his brothers and ended up in jail in Egypt, but God used all of these experiences to prepare Joseph for his ultimate role of saving his family and the people of Egypt from famine. While still in prison, Joseph correctly interpreted dreams for two of Pharaoh’s servants-his cupbearer and chief baker. As the dreams had predicted, the baker was executed, and the cupbearer was restored to service.

Two years later, Pharaoh had two dreams that disturbed him, but no one could tell him what they meant. The cupbearer remembered Joseph and told Pharaoh about him. Pharaoh sent for Joseph, who told him that God was warning that a famine was coming and that preparations had to be made. Joseph was released from prison and put in charge of the preparations.

When the famine came, it was widespread and affected Joseph’s family. The same brothers who sold Joseph into slavery came to Egypt to find food. Joseph still loved them and forgave them. He arranged for all of the family to move to Egypt. Pharaoh promised them the best of the land.

Joseph trusted God through many years of hardship, and God worked all of those painful circumstances for the good of Joseph, his family and God’s chosen people in the generations to come. His chosen people grew from a few to millions.

Satan is often called “the accuser,” but any charges Satan makes against us will never stand up because the Jesus who sanctifies us is also the Jesus who judges us. We are protected by Christ’s death and resurrection.  Anyone who would take away our salvation would have to be stronger than God, and since no one is stronger than God, we can never lose our salvation. God speaks of love as Christ’s love for his people. Christ’s love protects us from the trials of life. No one and nothing can separate us from God.

A believer can never be condemned by God because of Christ’s death and resurrection, Christ’s exalted position and his continual intercession for us. We are part of the body of Christ, and he loves us so much that nothing can separate us from him. God’s love is not human or normal. God loves us because of who we are-his children.

Paul affirms the incredible power of the love of Christ in Romans 8:26-39. The Holy Spirit intercedes for us when we can’t find the words to pray. When believers are hurting so much that they can’t mention their desires, the Holy Spirit intercedes with groans that words can’t express. Paul urges us to recognize the depths of our despair, but we must remember that we are not alone. God is always with us, even when we feel alienated, separated and alone.

When we are saved, God doesn’t stop with justification. He gave up his son, so he will freely give us everything we need for sanctification and glorification. When we are redeemed, we receive a new heart and we begin the lifelong process of transformation. Then we have to immerse ourselves in the Scriptures so that God can use his word to transform our minds.

God will take our negative experiences and use then to shape us and use us for his purposes. That doesn’t mean that God is pleased with all of our negative circumstances. He gets mad when people drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. He is sad when we are persecuted for our faith. God loves us enough to be with us and walk with us when we face the storms of life.

God sees our sin and hates it. We need to repent for our own sake. We need to repent because we need to acknowledge that we do not want to keep on sinning. We have a duty to pray for ourselves and anyone who has been affected by our sin.

Sometimes we can only learn great lessons of faith when we face difficulties. God’s plans are not always our plans, because his plans carry a greater purpose. Sometimes he has to let bad things happen to us so that our lives and plans are realigned with his plans for our lives. God chips away at our lives like a sculptor chips away at a block of stone. In both cases, excess waste material is removed so we can become more like Christ.

We do not always know why God allows bad things to happen to us. It is enough for us to love him and know that he is there for us. God’s values and our values are not always the same. God speaks so that we may be made more like Jesus. When we trust in Christ, we are his forever. Because he paid the penalty for our sin on the cross, we are eternally secure. Nothing can take that away from us, and nothing can take us away from him. We gain the healing Spirit of God.

We are created in the image of God. The choices we make in life will either make us more Christ-like or more like the world. The key is how we choose to respond to our circumstances. We have to look at God’s promise that if he is there for us, nothing can be against us. Christ reversed our condemnation and enabled our salvation, and nothing and no one can undo his work. If Christ is our advocate, no one can win a judgment against us.

When we face times of trial, we can turn to God’s Word and ask him for help. God knows our needs. He won’t let anything happen to us without supplying the grace we need to turn the stumbling block into a stepping stone of faith. When God puts hard times together like a baker puts the ingredients for a cake together, they can work out for our good, including our failures and our hopelessness. God is at work in our lives. He undoes Satan’s messes and leads us where he wants us to go.

When our faith in Jesus operates in our lives, we are more than capable of handling whatever approaches us. He will give us the victory because of what he did for us on the cross. We can live happy, contented, joy-filled lives when we live in his goodness and with him in proper perspective.

When Christ returns, he will use the world’s destructive tools such as disaster, disease, death and decay as tools to accomplish his good will. As believers we will also be made into something good because we will be glorified. We can face life’s trials with the knowledge that God can use our trials for good and make us into something better than we can be on our own, and that is a life that is as Christ-like as possible. We can then be an example for others who are facing hardships. They can look at us and see that if faith can help us remain strong in the face of adversity, faith in God will help them as well. Our presence can sprinkle God’s healing love onto others wherever we go.

We must remember that when bad things happen, God is in control. He loves us and wants us to be saved. He allows events for his good purpose. People who love God and are called according to his purpose are assured that God will transform a bad situation to bring a good result. Our spiritual struggle will help us to move toward the greater good of salvation. Because God raised Jesus from the dead, our present experience of suffering and what we can expect of the future are changed. There will come a time when even the worst suffering we endure now will pale in comparison to the glory that will be revealed to us in heaven.


  1. Anne Graham Lotz, “According to God’s Purpose.” Retrieved from www.angelministries.org
  2. Jeremiah, David: The Jeremiah Study Bible, NKJV (Brentwood, TN: Worthy Publishing; 2013)
  3. MacArthur, J.F. Jr.: The MacArthur Study Bible, NASB (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.; 2006)
  4. Lucado, Max: The Lucado Life Lessons Study Bible (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.; 2010)
  5. Dr. Neil Anderson, “Help from the Holy Spirit.” Retrieved from Crosswalk@crosswalkmail.com
  6. Jim Burns, “God Knows What He is Doing!” Retrieved from Crosswalk@crosswalkmail.com
  7. Dr. Charles Stanley, “The Pathway of Spiritual Growth.” Retrieved from www.intouch.org
  8. Dr. Ray Pritchard, “Can We Still Believe in Romans 8:28?” Retrieve from www.keepbelieveing.org
  9. Stanley, C.F.: The Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible, NKJV (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.; 2008)
  10. Briscoe, D.S.  & Ogilvie, L.J.: The Preacher’s Commentary Series, Vol. 29: Romans (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.; 1982)
  11. Ron Moore, “I Am His Forever.” Retrieved from Crosswalk@crosswalkmail.com
  12. Rick Warren, “The Wild Card: Your Choices.” Retrieved from www.purposedriven.com
  13. Mary Southerland, “Can We Really Trust God?” Retrieved from Crosswalk@crosswalkmail.com
  14. Swindoll, Charles R.: Swindoll’s New Testament Insights on Romans (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan; 2010)
  15. Dr. Charles Stanley, “Answers in Times of Great Disaster.” Retrieved from www.intouch.org
  16. Exegesis for Romans 8:26-39. Retrieved from www.lectionary.org
  17. Jesse Gutsgell, “Bible Study, 7 Pentecost, Proper 12 (A).” Retrieved from http://episcopaldigitalnetwork.com
  18. Daniel Clendenin, PhD, “Inseparable Love.” Retrieved from www.journeywithjesus.net
  19. Paul S. Berge, “Commentary on Romans 8:26-29.” Retrieved from www.workingpreacher.org
  20. Mary Hinkle Shore, “Commentary on Romans 8:26-39.” Retrieved from www.workingpreacher.org

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