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Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?

Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?



Why do bad things happen to good people? Why is this world so unfair? Please don't tell me "We can't understand G‑d's ways." I am sick of hearing that. I want an explanation.


Are you sure you want an explanation? Do you really want to know why the innocent suffer? I think not. You are far better off with the question than with an answer.

You are bothered by the fact that people suffer undeservedly. As you should be. Any person with an ounce of moral sensitivity is outraged by the injustices of our world. Abraham, the first Jew, asked G-d, "Should the Judge of the whole world not act fairly?" Moses asked, "Why have You treated this people badly?" And today we still ask, "Why G‑d, why?"

But what if we found the answer? What if someone came along and gave us a satisfying explanation? What if the mystery were finally solved? What if we asked why, and actually got an answer?

If this ultimate question were answered, then we would be able to make peace with the suffering of innocents. And that is unthinkable. Worse than innocent people suffering is others watching their suffering unmoved. And that's exactly what would happen if we were to understand why innocents suffer. We would no longer be bothered by their cry, we would no longer feel their pain, because we would understand why it is happening.

Imagine you are in a hospital and you hear a woman screaming with pain. Outside her room, her family is standing around chatting, all smiling and happy. You scream at them, "What's wrong with you? Can't you hear how much pain she is in?" They answer, "This is the delivery ward. She is having a baby. Of course we are happy."

When you have an explanation, pain doesn't seem so bad anymore. We can tolerate suffering when we know why it is happening.

And so, if we could make sense of innocent people suffering, if we could rationalise tragedy, then we could live with it. We would be able to hear the cry of sweet children in pain and not be horrified. We would tolerate seeing broken hearts and shattered lives, for we would be able to neatly explain them away. Our question would be answered, and we could move on.

But as long as the pain of innocents remains a burning question, we are bothered by its existence. And as long as we can't explain pain, we must alleviate it. If innocent people suffering does not fit into our worldview, we must eradicate it. Rather than justifying their pain, we need to get rid of it.

So keep asking the question, why do bad things happen to good people. But stop looking for answers. Start formulating a response. Take your righteous anger and turn it into a force for doing good. Redirect your frustration with injustice and unfairness and channel it into a drive to fight injustice and unfairness. Let your outrage propel you into action. When you see innocent people suffering, help them. Combat the pain in the world with goodness. Alleviate suffering wherever you can.

We don't want answers, we don't want explanations, and we don't want closure. We want an end to suffering. And we dare not leave it up to G-d to alleviate suffering. He is waiting for us to do it. That's what we are here for.

Aron Moss is rabbi of the Nefesh Community in Sydney, Australia, and is a frequent contributor to
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Discussion (276)
October 27, 2014
The Bible's morality is perfect. Personally I find the Scriptures to be interesting and refreshing. The UN's stated position no doubt echos much of what the bible has been encouraging humanity to do for centuries. Both the Hebrew scriptures and the Christian Scriptures put the love of people as one of the highest commandments. For example:(Leviticus 19:18) 18 “‘You must not take vengeance nor hold a grudge against the sons of your people, and you must love your fellow man as yourself.
(Deuteronomy 10:19) 19 You too must love the foreign resident, for you became foreign residents in the land of Egypt.
And we are all familiar with 'loving our neighbor ourselves'
We are all responsible to our creator to listen to Him. Sadly most of us(those who profess and those who don't) do not listen. The result is this world (UN and all).
(Isaiah 48:18) 18 If only you would pay attention to my commandments! Then your peace would become just like a river And your righteousness like the waves of the sea.
new york
October 23, 2014
Why did the writer of this article not spell GOD out?
October 13, 2014
Matan is correct in deducing that I was referring to Epicurus' logic. Except Matan added an unsupportable non sequitur:
"since none (sic) is neither good or bad, and by extension pain and suffering become just an extension of existence. In Dell's world crime does not merit punishment, since crime does not exist......"

Really? Societies throughout time have arrived at some arbitrary consensus of what is considered acceptable behavior, usually that it's not OK to hurt other people. This has nothing to do with supernatural gods. Just one example is the secular United Nations Agreements on Human Rights which if anything is more moral than the bible (UN forbids slavery for example). Twisted logic says that things are moral because a mythical god said so. Atheists say if anything, it is the other way around. If a god told you to fly a plane into a building, would you say that was moral?
Dell Anderson
Fairfield, CA
October 12, 2014
God answered this to Job in chapters 38 through 41. Job responded by basically withdrawing the question in awe of God's unfathonable power
October 10, 2014
I have heard this questions billions and billions of times. I still don't know why bad things happen to good people. Maybe we could ask the world's most powerful person this question? Perhaps Stephen Hawking?
September 16, 2014
Why evil

While an anesthetist perspective seems logical on the surface it is not an appropriate response as to why evil. First, it assumes that man is inherently bad. Is he? some say yes some no. Either way, to present such as answer assuming the explanation is inherent is not a logical explanation.
Second, the presence of evil does not prove the existence or absence of a creator. It might call into question his personality. Many New Yorkers are annoying, that doesn't mean they don't exist. In fact it is because they do exist that the problem exists.
Third, the Scriptures give an explanation as to why evil. Simply put the system of things we find ourselves in is under the control of the Devil(an angel who went bad). He is nuts. A second reason is we are imperfect. And as imperfect people we are prone to selfish and greedy motives. The final is "time and unexpected events overtake them all."
Would an unloving Creator give an explanation, and a promise to undo the damage done?
new york
September 15, 2014
G-d gave man the choice - to be evil or good. He does not monitor every second of every mans' life. We can choose whether we want to "eat of the apple" or not. G-d will not stop you - nor will he make you eat it.
J Levy.
September 13, 2014
Dell's atheistic claim about the non existence of G-d, and therefore everything else falls flat Epicurus proposed the following: "Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then He is not omnipotent. Is He able, but not willing? Then He is malevolent. Is He both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is He neither able nor willing? Then why call Him God?"
Epicurus (c. 341 - c. 270 BC)

There is no God, there isn't good, nor bad, morals and ethics cease to exist,
therefore pain affects every body without any moral nor ethical qualifications, since none is neither good or bad, and by extension pain and suffering become just an extension of existence. In Dell's world crime does not merit punishment, since crime does not exist......
September 2, 2014
Respectfully but strongly disagree
Aron Moss, with all due respect, neither you nor any of the commenters here have provided even one plausible reason that could outweigh the huge amount of pain in the world. Pain brings us together? Get real, I'd rather be comfortable and separated from you! The only logical explanation of pain in the world is that there is 1) no god or 2) he is not omnipotent. Either one makes him unworthy of further discussion. Atheists know that the world makes much more sense when viewed from a non-theist perspective, and no amount of theological hand-waving will ever change that. Add to this the fact that religion seems to add rather than subtract to the world's pain and the logical conclusion is that religious leaders would do better for the world if they became philosophers rather than mythologists. You are an atheist to every god (Zeus, Thor, Jupiter etc) except the one in your bible. I just go one god further.
Dell Anderson
Fairfield, CA
August 28, 2014
Ed and others; As the article implies, there are no answers. This God is irrelevant in attempting to answer. The good need to prevent and destroy evil. Evil in the form of Muslim savages must be prevented and destroyed.
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