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Why do bad things happen to good people?  It’s the perennial question!

God promises we will be persecuted, and we will suffer.

Certainly there existeth troubles, trials, afflictions, persecution, censure and contempt. When thou didst occupy thy time in the past to give out religious exhortations and advices, thou experienced some persecutions and trouble. But thou canst not realize in this present moment what great ordeals are in store and what unbearable calamities, affliction and adversity exist. (Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of Abdu’l-Bahá v3, p. 547)

Although we won’t ever understand God’s ways . . . :

God’s wisdom is, indeed, inscrutable to us all, and it is no use pushing too far trying to discover that which shall always remain a mystery to our mind.  (Shoghi Effendi, Unfolding Destiny, p. 434)

He want us to trust that whatever His reasons, He has a plan. He’s in charge, and He has our best interests at heart.

No matter what happens, nothing is as important as our feeling of trust in God, our inner peacefulness and faith that all, in the end, in spite of the severity of the ordeals we may pass through will come out as Bahá’u’lláh has promised. (Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 237)

The question we often ask when we see suffering is “Why do bad things happen to good people?”  But God does not discriminate.  Bad things happen to all people for two reasons:

The trials of man are of two kinds. (a) The consequences of his own actions. If a man eats too much, he ruins his digestion; if he takes poison he becomes ill or dies. If a person gambles he will lose his money; if he drinks too much he will lose his equilibrium. All these sufferings are caused by the man himself, it is quite clear therefore that certain sorrows are the result of our own deeds. (b) Other sufferings there are, which come upon the Faithful of God.  (Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 49-50)

Asking “Why” doesn’t bring peace.  It’s not the right question to ask.  For example, if you crash your car, asking “why” might provide an illuminating answer, but the better question would be “what am I going to do now?”  So in our suffering, we can ask “What does God want me to do so He can redeem the pain?”

We need to accept that suffering is a part of life.  Sometimes good things happen to bad people, and sometimes bad things happen to good people.  If something bad happens to us, it might mean that God is punishing us but it doesn’t mean that He loves us less, or that He’s caused it.

That [ordeals, adversities and tribulations] . . . which is for punishment of deeds is severe retribution.  The father and the teacher sometimes show tenderness towards the children and at other times deal harshly with them.  Such severity is for educational purposes; it is true tenderness and absolute bounty and grace   Although in appearance it is wrath, in reality it is kindness.  Although outwardly it is an ordeal, inwardly it is a cooling draught.  (‘Abdul-Bahá, Divine Art of Living, p. 85)

God promises that in all things He will be with us:

O maid-servant of God! Verily, I have not forgotten thee and will not forget thee. Trust thou in the love of Abdul-Bahá, for verily, nothing equals it.  (Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of Abdu’l-Bahá v1, p. 201)

For more in this series:

Suffering is Inescapable

Role of Free Will and Suffering

Misconceptions about Suffering

What Good Can Come From Suffering?

How Should We Respond To Suffering

How Can We Help Someone Who is Suffering

And previous blog postings on the same topic:

Why Does Life Have to Hurt So Much?

Suffering Through Tests:

Suffering is Not Optional, But We Can Change How Long We Stay Stuck: