Why do bad things happen?
Find out why God allows pain and death
Have you ever had difficult discussions with your kids about why bad things happen? Does pain have a purpose?
Take your kids on a journey and discover what the Bible says about how suffering began.
Have you ever wondered why bad stuff happens?
Have you struggled with answering difficult questions?
Maybe you’ve had difficult conversations with your children about some of these issues—or maybe you’ve got questions of your own.
Sadly, suffering, pain and death are all part of life on Planet Earth, and there are many times when it just doesn’t seem fair.
Does pain have a purpose?
Suffering can be described as an experience of some form of pain, loss or grief [Reference].
But suffering may not actually be all bad. Pain may a have purpose—an important purpose. There are times when pain might actually be necessary.
When we experience pain, it tells us where our boundaries lie. Without that experience, it would be all too easy for us to destroy ourselves. It sometimes seems like we don’t deserve the pain that happens to us—and we don’t know how to deal with.
Why is there so much suffering?
How do I deal with it?
Did you know that God actually didn’t ever intend for us to suffer? So it makes sense that we struggle with how to respond when it happens.
Suffering isn’t part of God’s original plan.
Of course, the anatomical aspects that allow us to feel pain are part of God’s amazing creation design. But what God didn’t ever want us to experience are the sad events that cause pain in the first place.
As hard as it may be to grasp, the pain and suffering we are experiencing now on Earth will ultimately result in happiness.
To understand this and explain it to our kids, we really need to go back to the beginning of time, to another place, another galaxy, another world.
Let’s take a journey
In child-friendly language, author Carolyn Byers explains the beginnings of pain, suffering and death from a biblical perspective. She begins by talking about The Shiniest Angel.
A long, long time ago God lived with His Son and the angels in heaven.
Heaven was a happy place. The angels sang while they worked. Each angel had his own special work.
Lucifer, the shiniest angel of all, stood next to God. He was God’s special helper.
“‘You were the seal of perfection,
full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.
You were in Eden,
the garden of God;
every precious stone adorned you:
carnelian, chrysolite and emerald,
topaz, onyx and jasper,
lapis lazuli, turquoise and beryl.
Your settings and mountings were made of gold;
on the day you were created they were prepared.
You were anointed as a guardian cherub,
for so I ordained you.
Ezekiel 28:12-14, NIV
Every angel liked the work God gave him. To obey the One they loved brought each angel joy.
God and His Son loved their happy home with the angels. But their love was so big that they wanted somebody new to love. They talked together and decided to make a brand new world. The angels were excited when they heard about God’s plans.
But one angel frowned at God’s words. Lucifer, the shiniest angel, walked away from his place next to God.
“God is making a new world,” he said to himself.
“He didn’t ask me about it.
“I am the smartest and most beautiful of all the angels.
“Why should God expect me to obey His Son?
“He is selfish.
“I know I can do things better than He can.
“If I were in charge, everything would be fine.”
Lucifer’s eyes grew dark and mean.
“God is not good.
“He is making a bad mistake.”
You were blameless in your ways
from the day you were created
till wickedness was found in you.
Lucifer asked all the angels to come to a secret meeting.
He said, “With God’s Son in charge, our freedom is gone. He will tell us what to do. We are angels. We don’t need that Son to boss us around.”
Lucifer shook his fist. “I’ll never obey God’s Son again!
“If you are smart, you’ll do as I do,” he shouted.
“I love you more than God’s Son does.
“I love you more than God does.
“Let me be your God.”
You said in your heart,
“I will ascend to the heavens…
I will make myself like the Most High.”
After the meeting, the angels talked together in small groups. “What has gone wrong?” they asked each other. “Why don’t we feel like singing?”
Most of the angels felt afraid. One hurried to tell God what had happened. He found God talking with His Son about Lucifer. The angel listened.
“Lucifer is ruined,” he heard them say. “Lucifer will always make trouble.”
The angels thought about God’s words. What should they do with Lucifer? Should they kill the shiniest angel? If Lucifer died, then the other angels in heaven might be afraid of God and His Son. Many angels would wonder, who was right? Who really was the better leader? Who really loved them more? Who was the good one? Was it God, or Lucifer?
All heaven was upset. Some of the angels cried.
They wondered, what will happen? Will God still want to make a new world?
Then an angel messenger arrived. “We’re having a meeting,” he said.
The angels listened quietly while God talked. “My Son and I will still make a new world. And I still want you to do what He says. Just as you do what I tell you to do.”
Many angels turned to look at Lucifer. His eyes were angry. His face did not look happy. He shook his head as God spoke.
God’s voice was sad. “Since Lucifer will not obey My Son, he cannot stay in heaven.”
Lucifer jumped up.
“Your rules are bad. No one can obey them!” he shouted.
“We don’t need Your rules.”
He pointed to his many angel friends. “All these angels are with me,” he said. Will you make leave heaven, too?”
“I am going to stay here. I am going to be the boss. And we’re ready to fight!”
Then there was war in heaven. Lucifer and his friends were pushed out. Afterwards, heaven’s gates were locked.
Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back.
But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven.
The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.
Heaven seemed too quiet with many of the angels gone. Tears trickled down some of the angels’ faces. They longed for their friends.
Again God talked with His Son about making a new world. Would they let Lucifer go to the new world? Would they let him talk to God’s new people? What if people—God’s new children—chose to follow the shiniest angel? What then?
God and His Son talked about happiness. What would bring everyone everywhere happiness for all time? They decided that people should be able to choose whom they wanted to obey. To help them choose, people would be told about Lucifer. God would tell His new children that Lucifer would make them sad and sick. And if they chose to obey Lucifer, he would make them die.
“We must let Lucifer talk to them,” God said. “That’s fair. But we will not let him follow them around. Lucifer can talk to them only when they go near one spot, the forbidden tree.”
“What will happen if people listen to Lucifer?” an angel asked.
God and His Son knew what would happen. People would hurt each other. Lucifer would make people sick. The beautiful new world would be filled with mean, sad people.
“Then what happens if someone decides they don’t like Lucifer?” the angels wanted to know. “What happens if someone wants to be made kind and good again?”
God and His Son thought of a plan.
God and His Son made the beautiful new world that they had planned.
They made green grass, tall trees and sweet-smelling flowers.
They made the sun, moon and stars.
They made fish and birds, and all kinds of animals.
Last of all, God made two people.
Their names were Adam and Eve.
Adam and Eve adored the beautiful park that God had made for their home. They slept under the stars every night. There was nothing to fear. The bears and tigers and snakes were their friends. There were no stinging bees or biting ants to harm them.
Just as God had planned, He warned Adam and Eve to stay away from the forbidden tree.
And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”
The angels told Adam and Eve the sad, sad story of their leader, Lucifer, who had now become ‘Satan”, the enemy.
“Lucifer lived in heaven,” the angels explained. “But he hated God’s Son because Lucifer wanted to be God. Then he started a war. Lucifer and his friends were pushed out of heaven.
“Now Lucifer wants to tell you that God is bad. God will let him talk to you, but only at that one tree.
“Satan’s ways lead to death. But God has made this garden for you so you can always live in peace. Satan’s ways lead to death. But God’s way is the way of happiness. God gives you the freedom to choose whichever way you want. But only you can make the decision.”
One day, Eve wandered away from Adam. Suddenly she found herself near the tree that God had warned them to stay away from.
She heard a sweet voice from a beautiful sparkling snake in the forbidden tree. The snake asked her whether she was allowed to eat the fruit from that tree.
Then the snake said, “God knows that if you eat from this tree, you will be like Him. You will know both good and evil. You won’t die.”
As Eve stood there, she had to think. She had to choose whom she would believe.
Should she believe God? Or should she believe the beautiful talking snake?
Quickly Eve decided. She chose to believe the snake. She took the fruit and ate it.
It tasted good, so she picked some more to share with Adam.
As soon as Adam saw the fruit, he knew Satan had given it to Eve. He knew he shouldn’t eat it. Now it was Adam’s turn to choose. Whom did he love more—God or Eve?
Then Adam decided. He grabbed the fruit and ate it. Satan, the enemy who had been talking through the snake all along, laughed.
“Ha! Ha! Ha! The people God made are all mine! Their pretty world is mine. The animals are mine.”
It wasn’t long before Adam and Eve found out who had been telling the truth.
God had been right all along. Satan, speaking through the snake, had tricked them.
When God found Adam and Eve hiding from Him that night, He could see they had the sure signs of Satan’s disease already—they were cold and shivering and they were so afraid they didn’t even want to talk to God, their best friend.
God said to Adam and Eve, “I didn’t want you to know about evil. Now you will know what evil means. It will be hard to grow the food you eat. You will get hot and sweaty when you work. Then you will grow old and die.”
Adam and Eve had to leave the beautiful park that God had made for them. Eve cried. Adam took one last look at the garden. Adam and Eve were so, so sad to leave their beautiful home. Only one thing made Adam and Eve feel better. They remembered something God had told them—Satan wouldn’t win—God had a special plan to save them.
These stories help to explain why bad things like pain, suffering and death happen.
• God isn’t the cause of suffering.
• Suffering comes from some of the choices people make.
• God could have stopped suffering right at the beginning—by destroying Satan, the one who started all the evil.
• If God had done that, no one would ever have realised why God made rules.
• Everyone would have been afraid of God.
God has let people choose what they will do—this means they find out the consequences of doing evil for themselves:
But this pain does have a purpose. God is using the suffering—which may sometimes be so intense that we wonder if we can cope with it—as part of His plan for ultimate happiness. He wants us to experience true, sustainable happiness—an eternity of happiness. God is showing us just how bad evil really is so we’ll never want to do it again.
Whatever they plot against the Lord
He will bring to an end;
trouble will not come a second time.
Understanding that pain is a step towards bringing sustainable happiness to the Universe can help us to cope with pain in the here and now.
Keep these Bible promises in mind too when you or those you love are coping with pain. Even though God doesn’t stop the pain right now, He’s there beside us, experiencing our pain with us.
In all their distress he too was distressed,
and the angel of his presence saved them.
In his love and mercy he redeemed them;
he lifted them up and carried them
all the days of old.
God’s plan will one day bring sustainable, eternal, perfect happiness not only to Planet Earth, but to the whole Universe.
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea…
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people…
He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
Revelation 21:1, 3, 4
The 5-volume set of Forever Stories, by Carolyn Byers, will guide your child to discover the whole story of God’s plan for sustainable happiness.
1. God Makes Our World tells the story of how God made our world and Adam and Eve’s sad choice to follow Satan.
2. God Makes a Promise tells about God’s plan to send His Son to earth to save people from evil and death.
3. Getting Ready for Jesus tells about the people God chose to tell His plan to save them to the world.
4. Jesus Lives With Us tells the story of Jesus life on earth and how He died to save people.
5. Jesus Takes Us Home tells of how Jesus rose from the dead, is preparing a beautiful new home for us now in heaven, and how He will make a beautiful new world again with no pain or suffering.
Order your set of the Forever Stories NOW simply by filling out the form adjacent.
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