Q. Recently in the news, we all heard of Steve Irwin’s (The Crocodile Hunter) death. This event has really been bothering me for some reason. What bothers me the most is why did he die? This man that has probably done nothing but good in this world. Now his wife is a widow, and his 2 children are fatherless. I just don’t understand. You see all these crazy, godless people running around this world, and nothing bad seems to happen to them (not that I wish it did). Why do bad things happen to people that do good things in their life?
My family and I are going through a lot ourselves. My husband has battled cancer, which disfigured his face. And our daughter is fighting for her life as well, from brain cancer. She is not even 3 years old yet, and we just don’t understand why these things have happened to us.
To get to the point, I think my issue is that I don’t know what happens after death, and that is what I am afraid of, the not knowing part. How do we know what to expect? What is the point of horrible things being allowed to happen to decent people? Is there any passage from the bible that can answer these type of questions?
A. I’d be the last to try and explain away the hurt and anguish you must feel with a handful of pat answers even if they are Bible verses. But I can offer some perspective.
The first thing to understand is that evil came into the world because of sin. God didn’t create things this way. Adam and Eve had been given authority over Earth, and as a consequence of their sin they lost control of Earth to Satan. Since then Satan’s been running things here. 1 John 5:19 says, “We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.”
When Satan took over, the world became infested with all kinds of evil including sickness and disease that afflict both good and bad people, although the Bible does say that there’s only One who is good, and that’s God. (Matt. 19:17). We’re all sinners and therefore all subject to the evil that abounds here. And let’s remember that God’s definition of good begins with accepting the death of Jesus as payment for our sins. It doesn’t matter what “good” we’ve done otherwise, without that we’re lost.
I don’t know if Steve Irwin had a relationship with Jesus or not, so I can’t say whether he was a “good” man or not. But either way, I do know that we can’t blame God for his death. It was a tragic accident, but he chose a high risk career and faced death frequently. He and his family accepted that risk in return for the fame and fortune they enjoyed. And if he was a believer, God never promised that believers would be immune from accidents or sickness or any of the other evils of this world. He only said that we should take heart because He’s overcome the world. (John 16:33) By that He meant that we will too.
It does often look as if evil is triumphing over good, but remember that’s only what we see here in this evil place. God has promised that evil men will be punished, and even though they only live for 70-80 years here, their punishment lasts forever. So they’ve traded 70 years of evil deeds for an eternity of punishment. Believers are told to focus on the things we can’t see (eternal life) instead of the things we can (the injustice of this world). (2 Corinthians 4:18) To me that’s our biggest challenge. We can only see the things that happen around us, so we form opinions based on that.
But God promises eternal life for those who believe, in a place where there is no more death or mourning or crying or pain. (Rev. 20:4) Following our short lives here, we get to live eternally there in days filled with happiness and joy. He hasn’t given us all the details because if we knew just how great it’s going to be then we’d be even more miserable here.
But he has said that “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.” (1 Cor 2:9) Believers have nothing to fear in death. On the contrary we can view it as the entry way to eternal joy. Until then we can only have patience and faith. It won’t be long now.