By Barbara Rusch
On this anniversary of 9/11, I flashback to that tragic day. I was an administrator at a large elementary school. Pretty daunting to feel responsible for 800 students while our beloved nation was under attack.
In classrooms, staff did a great job of keeping the children away from the news while proceeding with the regular plans of the day. But the office was besieged with worried parents coming to take their children home while staff in the lunchroom prayed and audibly asked, “Why do bad things happen to good people?”
Later that day one staff member was particularly upset because her cousin living in New York could not be found. A day or two later another staff member collapsed in my arms — her brother had been on one of the planes that struck the twin towers. She sobbed, “I just don’t understand why things like this happen.”
Flash forward to this summer. The adult son of a dear friend takes his own life. Another good friend, age 59, dies of breast cancer.
Again, why do “bad” things happen to “good” people? I don’t claim to have all of the answers, but I feel led to share the Biblical references that sustain me during difficult times.
For this, we turn to Genesis Chapter 3. We see in the beginning God provided Adam and Eve with the Garden of Eden. It’s only after they sin that they are told by our Lord:
“Cursed is the ground because of you;
through painful toil you will eat food from it
all the days of your life.
It will produce thorns and thistles for you,
and you will eat the plants of the field.
By the sweat of your brow
you will eat your food
until you return to the ground,
since from it you were taken;
for dust you are and to dust you will return.”
There are many times I need to remind myself that our fallen world is no longer the way God designed the Garden of Eden to be. My own foolish expectation that we will live in heaven on this side of eternity causes me problems.
Instead, I need to remember that because of humanity’s sin we have pain and suffering on earth. Even more, I need to remember the promise we have from our Lord and Savior: that through the pain and suffering and death of our Lord Jesus Christ we are redeemed.
The curse of Genesis 3 is removed! And the promise of Revelation 7 is put in place:
“These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
“Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple;
and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence.
They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore;
the sun shall not strike them,
nor any scorching heat.
For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd,
and he will guide them to springs of living water,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
There will be no heaven on this earth, at least, not until the new creation. Bad things will continue to happen to good people this side of eternity.
But the promise of salvation and a new creation sustains us and uplifts us to praise the glory of God!