Devotional: ‘When Bad Things Happen to Good People’


In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it.  And the Lord delivered Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, along with some of the articles from the temple of God. These he carried off to the temple of his god in Babylonia and put in the treasure house of his god.  (Daniel 1:1-2)

Why do bad things happen to good people?  That’s a question many have asked down through the ages.  It’s certainly a question that a group of young Jewish men could have asked many years ago.

“Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, chief of his court officials, to bring in some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility– young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king’s palace… Among these were some from Judah: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah.  (Daniel 1:3-6)

On the surface it looks like Daniel and his friends were the victims of unfortunate circumstances. They lived during a time when the nation Israel was at an all-time spiritual low; because of the nation’s moral decay, the Lord allowed the Babylonians to come and defeat them. According to what we have just read, during this invasion many of the Jews were carried away into captivity. Among those who were captured were Daniel and his three friends.

One of the great truths found in the Bible comes from the life of another young man who went through a similar experience. His name was Joseph. As you will remember, Joseph was sold by his brothers into Egyptian slavery. Joseph had every right to be bitter; yet he allowed his suffering to make him better. Later in his life he said these amazing words – “What you meant for evil, God meant for good.” (Genesis 50:20)

Perhaps there were moments when Daniel and his friends had a difficult time seeing anything good in their circumstances. On the surface it looked like a total disaster; yet God was working behind the scenes. God’s plan was to mature Daniel into a man whom He could use in a very powerful way.

Perhaps you also are going through a difficult season at this time in your life. Perhaps you are tempted to think that God has abandoned you. Scripture teaches us that He hasn’t. Even if the Lord allows evil to come against us, we must know in our hearts that it is for our good and His glory. I conclude with these words from another man of God who had to suffer. “But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” (Job 23:10)

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