"When Bad Things Happen To Good People" is actually the title of Rev Kong Hee's article on sg.christianpost.com. I am not writing to comment on what Rev Kong said in his article but the title reminds me of five persons.
Persons No.1 and 2 - Jesus and the rich young man
17 Now as He was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” 18 So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God.
What do we mean when we say "Good People"? Are Christians considered "Good People" just because they are Christians? How about Christians whom you know are not living holy lives? How about non-Christians who are moral and upright?
Rev Kong Hee, in his article, tries to explain why bad things happen to Christians i.e. good people as implied by the title of his article. The term "Good People" brings to fore the subconscious belief that many of us Christians have: we deserve to have good things happen to us because we are "good". When "bad things" happen to us, we subconsciously question God why it is happening since we have been "good" - we attend church faithfully, serve in the church, tithe faithfully, pray regularly, etc or conversely, we rationalise that the bad is happening because we have not been "good".
This is the belief that is no different from other religions i.e. good begets good rewards and bad begets bad rewards. There is a Chinese saying for this: 善有善报 恶有恶报
However, Jesus in Mark 10:18 says that no one is good except God, hence we should always remember that God IS good, and we are "God's People" rather than "Good People", therefore we can expect good because God is good, and not because we are good. But if God is good, then why are bad things happening to God's people? This brings me to persons number 3 and 4.
Persons No.3 and 4 - Master Oogway and Master Shifu
Master who? Well, if you need to ask, then obviously you have not watched the animated movie "Kung Fu Panda". Master Oogway is the grand master of martial art and Master Shifu is his student.
Master Shifu was rushing in panic to report to Master Oogway the "bad news" that Tai Lung (the very highly skilled bad guy) had escaped from prison and coming to attack them. However, Master Oogway very calmly replied,"It is bad news ... if you do not believe that the Dragon Warrior can defeat Tai Lung." (the as yet untrained Kung Fu Panda is supposed to be the Dragon Warrior)
Similarly, when "bad things" happen, they are "bad things" only if we do not believe that God is good and will take care of those "bad things" for us. "Bad things" may look bad to us at first but God will turn around those "bad things" for our good - "And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them." (Rom 8:28)
Consider the case of Joseph who was sold as a slave by his own brothers and later thrown into prison in Egypt. These were really "bad things" that happened to him but everything was turned around when he was promoted straight from prison into the palace to be the second-in-command of the whole of Egypt because "the LORD was with Joseph" (Gen 39:2).
When you know deep down in your heart that God is with you and for you, then you know that the "bad things" are not from God but are attacks from the evil one. However, God will turn these "bad things" into instruments for Him to bring about good in your life - "You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people." (Gen 50:20)
This leads me to person number 5.
Person No.5 - Pastor Joseph Prince
How do we transfer this head knowledge of "God so loves us" into heart knowledge? We have to keep listening and listening to preaching that confirms to us from the bible of how much God loves us and therefore we can expect good from God, for "faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ". (Rom 10:17)
I recommend the following sermons preached by Pastor Prince:
1. God Will Turn Your Evil Day Into Good Days - 08/10/2004
2. Why You Can Expect Good Things To Happen To You - 29/5/2005
3. Good Things Happen To People Who Believe God Loves Them (CD Album)
I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.
And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.
(Ephesians 3:16-19, NLT)