Ask Father Paul – Why bad things happen


Answers to your questions about life, religion and the Bible

Why bad things happen

Dear Father Paul:  For the past few years my life has been a total mess. Divorce, loss of several jobs, health issues, and in 2015 bankruptcy. A TV preacher I like said on his program that if I’d just demonstrate my faith by sending his ministry a generous contribution, that God would come to my rescue and turn things around. I sent him $450, but that was months ago and so far nothing has changed for the better. He said that God rewards faith, but at this point I am very discouraged. What do you say?   — No Name

Dear No Name: God absolutely does reward our faith, but often in his own way and on his own time schedule.

I get several questions like yours every single year. They are many times written by good people but people who don’t have a solid knowledge of the Bible and so are fair game for the kind of TV preachers you describe.

Don’t get me wrong, there are many godly and ethical ministers on television. There are a couple that I watch and enjoy myself. But when they promise you that if you’ll just send them some money, all your problems will vanish, they are making you a promise that the Bible doesn’t make, and one that may or may not happen. I advise  people who want to contribute to TV ministers to contact the ministry and ask them to send you their ministry’s most recent annual certified financial audit. Simply put … you should run, not walk, away from any ministry that won’t or can’t.

Briefly … the Bible does not —  I repeat — does not promise any of us a problem free life.

Here’s a little Biblical history.

Since Adam and Eve’s original disobedience and sin toward God in the Garden of Eden, all men and women have lived, and today still live, on a fallen planet. Adam and Eve essentially (stupidly) sold their God given ownership and dominion over a perfect planet earth to God’s arch enemy, Satan … for a couple bites of an “apple” no less. They had every legal right to do this because God himself gave them ownership of earth in the first three chapters of Genesis in the Bible. Their conscious decision to choose Satan as their Father instead of God has caused two horrendous results.

First, Satan brought with him to “his” planet all of the things he loves best … death, tears, wars, hunger, pain, suffering, disease, trouble, trials, worry, sorrow, etc. Second, God refused to give up the planet without a fight, so earth, for all these eons, has become a “live fire” battlefield between the forces of Good and the forces of Evil.

Sounds almost like a science fiction adventure doesn’t it? Do you think maybe the writers of Star Wars got their inspiration from the Bible? Perhaps. The “Force?” The “Dark Side?”  A Galactic Battle To Restore Good To An Entire Planet?

We all know that innocent people — even good people, can get hurt, maimed and killed if they are unfortunate enough to live on a battle field. Just ask the people of Iraq and Syria.  

So trials, troubles, tears, pain, suffering and the like can, and do, happen to all of us and even I’ve had my own share. They are not a question of “if” but “when.” So it is undeniably true that God sometimes “allows” bad things to happen to us. In fact, Jesus himself, in John 16:33, says to his own disciples, “… in the world (Satan’s world) you will have tribulation (i.e. troubles), but take heart, I have overcome the world.”

No, the Bible does not guarantee that we’ll never face hardships and difficulties, even if we are believers. God does promise us, however, that he will never leave us or forsake us, and, as we have just read, he will (ultimately) “overcome” all of the tribulations we face and restore planet earth.

Think a little more deeply on this subject will you. Consider this. If God guaranteed  a completely blissful and trouble free life to every single person on earth, if they would just become a Christian, then everybody would certainly become Christians. I mean they’d be dumb not to, right? But if God did that he would have invalidated his own eternal principle of everyone’s “free will” to choose God or choose Satan. No, God gives all of us a free choice, but he does not bribe us.

Do you have a question? Email me at and I will try to answer your question in the paper.

Father Paul Massey is pastor emeritus of Church of the Holy Cross in Fayetteville, Georgia. Visit us at and visit us in person this Sunday.