A Lesson Learned: Why?

Why do bad things happen? Why do good people suffer? Why does healing come to some who are sick but not to others?

Have you ever struggled with these questions? Yeah, me too.

I’m participating in yet another amazing Beth Moore Bible study this fall…The Beloved Disciple:  The Life and Ministry of John. Getting a glimpse of Jesus’ earthly ministry peering over the shoulder of the youngest disciple has already encouraged me and strengthened my faith.

But the scenario that stuck out to me this week was after the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus. It was after the church started wildly growing due to the Holy Spirit being given to the disciples. I can’t stop thinking about this situation that we read about in Acts 12. Keep in mind that James is John’s big brother (and John is still probably a teenager when all of this is happening).

“It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them.  He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword. When he saw that this met with approval among the Jews, he proceeded to seize Peter also. This happened during the Festival of Unleavened Bread.  After arresting him, he put him in prison, handing him over to be guarded by four squads of four soldiers each. Herod intended to bring him out for public trial after the Passover.

So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him.

The night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries stood guard at the entrance.  Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. “Quick, get up!” he said, and the chains fell off Peter’s wrists.” -Acts 12: 1-7

Why did God save Peter but not James? God is certainly capable of miraculously releasing the chains on Peter’s captivity…why didn’t he exert that same power on James’ behalf? Why???

I’ve wrestled with these same questions that the disciple John surely had after the loss of my own brother. He was tragically killed in a car accident at the age of 19…almost 15 years ago. I was 13 when he died. I especially wrestled with this question after our car accident this past January…which was eerily similar to the accident that took my brother’s life. All four of us literally walked away without a scratch.

Why did God allow us to live but not my brother? Why did God save Peter but not James?

The truth is…we will never know the answer this side of Heaven. As frustrating and uncomfortable as this answer is, it is one that requires us to have faith. To have faith that God hears our prayers…yet sometimes His ways are not ours. His thoughts are not our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8).

We’ll never know for sure why God saves one but not another…not until we meet our Maker face to face, anyway. But we are assured that He will never leave us (Hebrews 13:5), even when it feels as though He’s deserted us. God assures us that in ALL things He works for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28)…even when it feels like the good can’t possibly make up for the loss and despair. God is close to the broken hearted (Psalm 34:18)…He endured watching His own son mocked, beaten, tortured, and killed. He knows the pain of those who mourn.

“I remain confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the LORD
in the land of the living.
Wait for the LORD;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the LORD.” -Psalm 27:13-14

When you start asking, “why”…wait for the Lord. Though you may never have answers, you WILL see His goodness.


  1. This is a great post! I think the important thing to remember is that God is in control. And with our temporal eyes we can never fully understand the ways of God. His ways are not our ways. Sometimes bad things happen to good people, and good things happen to bad people. Life is full of inequalities like that. But, there is a constant in life, and that is the redeeming power of Jesus Christ. We have the assurance that if we are faithful we can live in heaven with our families forever.

    I am very sorry for the loss of your brother. But sometimes tragedy can also help us if we let it.

  2. This is a beautiful post and I have often struggled with the why question a lot in my life. My brother died in his sleep 9 years ago. He was an identical twin. Why was is one and not the other when they are identical? Why do bad things happen to good people? I have found peace in God’s word but it has not been easy. Thank you for sharing. Peace be with you!

  3. Thank you for this post. I really needed to read it. I too have been struggling with similar thoughts when I was told the baby I was carrying last year had serious birth defects and would be born disabled. My husband and I prayed and fasted continuously for many months, convinced that God would heal our baby. We had total faith that he would be born healthy. At eight months pregnant, he died in the womb. Since then I’ve continually questioned “Why wasn’t he healed?” Did we not have enough faith (we thought we did, and if that wasn’t enough, then do we have enough for salvation?) Does God not intervene in lives after all? I have been left with a lingering doubt that if I ever pray to God earnestly again for something, I cannot be certain that the prayer will be answered. I have to remind myself daily that it is not my will, but God’s will be done. He is my shepherd and knows where to lead me – even if it seems like a “valley in the shadow of death” to me. This life is not all there is, but the eternities to be mindful of. Now when I think of my baby, I remember how sweet it was to have been so prayerful and to walk in the constant presence of God.

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