Have you ever asked, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” Disaster striking or disease infiltrating, the suffering or untimely death of those we deem as undeserving, sears the heart, doesn’t it? Situations like these sometimes leave us questioning why God allows such calamity to strike.

My family and I faced this situation recently. Our friend, an encourager, adventurist, veteran, and father of my kids’ teammates, battled an ugly illness. Many impacted by this man’s life struggled to understand why disease plagued such a young believer in Jesus Christ. He fought hard. So did his beautiful family. We prayed with fervor for his healing. His body, however, succumbed to cancer. Two of my kids approached me separately during those final weeks, and with pain on their faces, asked, “Why do bad things happen to good people?”

Talk about a hard conversation! I gulped then muttered something about a fallen world, that life will never be perfect on earth regardless of whether we’re good, bad, or somewhere in between. But there’s the hope of heaven. That’s the quick version, but there’s more to the answer.

The Bible helps us navigate through this tumultuous territory, revealing a loving God who offers embraceable and comforting hope—even when parts of the journey feel hopeless. As we dig into our answer, let’s start with the definition of “good”.

What Is Good and Who Determines It?

“Were you good today?” Children are sometimes asked this question. Perhaps we’ve offered it ourselves. But what or who determines “good”? People often categorize others based on behavior, using their own experience, education, and even strongholds as the standard. “Good” sits on a sliding scale. But what does the Bible say?

According to Romans 3:23, all people, even the “good” ones, sin and fall short of God’s glory. As a result, life on earth isn’t perfect. People aren’t either. And our enemy? He prowls here. Romans 6:23 goes further by noting the wages of sin is death. It's safe to say, none of us desire what sin causes us to deserve.

If humans wrestle with sin, who is good? Only God is good; Psalm 136:1 tells us so. Even when trials smack us in the face or toss us to the ground, our Father’s goodness never waivers. His love remains steadfast, and His plans for our hope-filled future were already in place.

11 Bible Verses about What Is "Good"

In Scripture, “good” is listed over 600 times. Several of these verses center on the goodness of God as well as His creation. We find the list below in Genesis 1 and 2.

-Light (Gen. 1:4)
-Separation of earth and seas (Gen. 1:10)
-Night and day (Gen. 1:18)
-Sea creatures and birds (Gen. 1:21)
-Animals (Gen. 1:25)
-Everything God made (Gen. 1:31)

Other Bible verses include our four-letter word, too. Listed below are five.

-Romans 8:28
-Psalm 104:28
-Psalm 118:29
-Romans 12:9
-Romans 12:21

What Does the Bible Say about Suffering?

John 16:33 promises troubles in this world, so it shouldn’t be a surprise when trials surface. Yet, some of them cause us to swirl like contents in a blender, don’t they? With our Father’s goodness in sight, however, we hold hope, even though we sometimes toil in the shadow of difficulty, that God overcomes the world.

Many scriptures note suffering as well as hope. Isaiah 43:2 promises that God will be with us, Psalm 34:19 assures God’s deliverance, and 2 Corinthians 1:4 reveals ministry opportunity for us as we comfort others due to the consolation we have found in God. This BibleStudyTools.com piece contains these promise-filled verses and many more. (Consider memorizing or studying a few to help during turbulent times.)

Suffering sometimes occurs due to the decision to sin by others or ourselves. Consider Paul, a religious man who persecuted Christians. A disciple named Judas betrayed Jesus for 30 coins then ended his life due to the guilt. King David committed adultery with Bathsheba, then ordered her faithful husband’s murder as a cover-up. In each of these situations, guilty and innocent people suffered due to one person’s sinful choice. But not all hardships rise from transgressions.

For instance, in John 9 Jesus and His disciples encountered a blind man. The disciples asked whose sin caused the condition. Jesus refuted the notion of sin. The miracle of the man regaining his sight—his life—displayed God’s magnificent work. What if we consider our difficulties as a canvas exhibiting the brush strokes of God?

Examples of Difficulty in the Bible

Many people in the Bible faced difficulties. God used their pain to reveal His glory, charging us with courage for our own journey.

-Noah endured a flood and loss of those surrounding him. (Gen. 6-8)
-Joseph’s brothers rejected him then sold him into slavery, a woman wrongly accused him, and he experienced imprisonment even though innocent. (Gen. 37- Gen. 47)
-Jacob’s sons endured a famine. (Gen. 42-45)
-Ruth’s husband died. (Ruth 1)
-Hannah faced infertility and the taunting of others. (1 Sam. 1)
-A man faced demon possession. (Luke 8)
-A little girl died due to illness. (Luke 8)
-A woman was crippled for eighteen years (Luke 13)
-Stephen was stoned to death. (Acts 7)

Suffering in the Book of Job

Job, a man who did right in the eyes of God, suffered greatly. Job 1:1 describes him as upright and blameless, one who feared the Lord and refused evil. Still, he encountered “bad”. In his case, the cause rests with the devil. In Job’s story, Satan played a major part. He gained permission from God to sift Job, figuring loss might cause Job to curse God. (See Job 1.) Job's animals were killed or stolen, taking his wealth with them. His children died also. Devastated, Job tore his robe and shaved his head. In verses 21 and 22, however, he responded in a way many of us might struggle to amid such suffering.

He praised the Lord and refused to sin. But then, Satan struck Job a second time. This righteous man broke out in sores from head to toe. As he sat in tremendous pain, his wife encouraged him to curse God. Job wisely refused, denying sin its power. He endured the suffering, clinging to God. As the life storm continued, friends came to Job’s side. Through their unwise counsel and encouragement, they implied that Job had sinned, resulting in the suffering. But Job? His words about the Almighty proved accurate, as Job 42:7, assures.

In the end, Job trusted his Father, and God remained faithful—just as He assures us He will be in our situations. The Lord blessed Job’s life twice as much as the earlier years. He acquired thousands of animals and fathered ten more children. While the devastation of such loss will often remain with us, Job’s life testifies beautifully that truly God is with us.

Jesus: the Savior Who Suffered

An example of suffering in the Bible, one that continues to bring hope and restoration to a whole throng of people years later, is the life of Jesus. At first glance, our Savior’s death on the cross seems a travesty—an innocent man wrongly accused and put to death. However, God used this suffering for hope to bridge the gap caused by sin’s deep chasm. Jesus stood sinless, yet offered His life so that we might find forgiveness and join our Father in heaven. Sometimes, suffering draws us to our faithful and loving Father. The “bad”, as difficult as it is, results in spiritual good.

Jesus uttered these words from Luke 22:42 (WEB): "’Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.’" He endured the cross due to the joy before Him, according to Hebrews 12:2, and now He sits at God’s right hand. He endured for people like us, so that we will have hope. What we encounter in the midst of the storm isn’t the end. For believers, heaven is.

8 Bible Verses for Hard Times

As long as we live and breathe on earth, hard times will threaten man. Will we, like Job, cling to our Father? Will we find praise among the bad scenarios? It’s not always easy, is it?

Blame, at time, tempts us to wag a finger at God or others. Discouragement sets in. And sometimes we simply desire to throw our arms in the air and quit the Christian race altogether. Wouldn’t that satisfy our enemy?

These additional Bible passages can help draw our focus to the Almighty and His love during tumultuous times.

-Psalm 121 (Our help comes from the LORD.)
-Job 42:2
(God can do all things.)
-Psalm 25 (All are shameless who hope in the LORD.)
-John 14:26 (The Holy Spirit counsels us.)
-2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (God comforts us in all our troubles.)
-1 John 4:19 (He first loved us.)
-John 3:16 (God loves the world.)
-Rev. 21:4 (He’ll wipe away every tear.)

What about God's Goodness?

Imagine if we removed the focus on man being good, believing instead that in every situation—even the bad ones—God is good. (Remember, He is not a liar and doesn’t change.) Would that adjust our perspective? According to James 1:17, God also gives good gifts. This includes the ultimate one: forgiveness of sins through Jesus Christ. Our Father invites us to commune with Him in heaven through belief in Jesus. The Bible keeps focus there. In trials, should we?

John, a believer in Jesus Christ, received a vision of heaven and was instructed to write down what he saw. This encounter resulted in the final book of the Bible: Revelation. When we flip to chapter 21, we read of a place void of tears, lying, death, and destruction. God will be with us, forbidding those things that harass us here on earth, including disease, violence, and the destruction causing us to question why bad things happen to good people.

With heaven, God’s loving plan for man, in the forefront of our thoughts, would our view of circumstances change?

For additional thought-provoking pieces on heaven, consider the ones listed below.

I think back to my friend and his wife. I don’t know which scriptures they clung to during his sickness, but they unknowingly ministered to me multiple times—through the patience and kindness they exhibited. And sometimes, in conversation, they’d say something that struck with the power of the Holy Spirit. I don’t relish the fact that they faced such a horrific situation, but I praise God that they trusted Him through it. People were changed as a result. That’s the power and faithfulness of God in action. And He’s the certainty on which we can secure our hope.

After all, our God is good, and according to 1 John 5:5,  believers in Jesus overcome the world. Amen.


Kristi Woods is a writer and speaker but mostly a Jesus girl. She writes weekly and offers faith-building tools for a deeper walk with God at www.KristiWoods.net. She contributes regularly at iBelieve.com and Crosswalk.com and is published in various print and online publications. Kristi, her handsome, retired-from-the-Navy husband, and their three children survived a nomadic, military lifestyle and have set roots in Oklahoma--where she keeps close watch for tornadoes and good chocolate. Connect with Kristi at KristiWoods.net.

Photo credit: ©GettyImages/KatarzynaBialasiewicz