We all have troubles in our lives, some more than others, but nobody I know lives a carefree life. When my troubles start to mount, I sometimes have the temptation to think “was it something I did? Is God punishing my family and I for something one of us did?” Jesus was approached about the topic of bad things happening to people in Luke 13:
There were present at that season some that told him of the Galileans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galileans were sinners above all the Galileans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. Luke 13:1-5
The first time I read this, I focused on the “repent or perish” comments, but take a closer look. He asks the people if they think the people that perished had sinned any worse than anyone else in Galilee or Jerusalem. He then answers his own question; obviously not. His point being that they were just average people who suffered, they weren’t being punished or singled out because they had committed some horrendous sin. In the sight of God, we are all guilty of sin. These people that perished were just like you and me. Bad things happen to good people, it’s a fact of life...deal with it as best as you can, but don’t feel that you’ve been marked for punishment for some unspeakable deed.
So then, should we just shut up and take what’s coming to us no matter how terrible it is? No! God loves and cares for us. Matthew 6:25-34 makes it clear that God will provide whatever we need, but all of God’s promises come with conditions. We must seek His Kingdom and righteousness (6:33). Jesus concludes his thoughts in Luke 13 by saying that everyone will perish eventually except those who repent of their sins.
The bedrock of the Gospels is the message to repent of our sins and seek salvation. Once we accept Jesus as our savior in a scriptural manner (baptism, etc) we can approach the Father through Him in prayer. God does answer prayer. The old cliché that sometimes His answer is “no” is unfortunately true, but that fact should not prevent us from asking Him for help in times of trouble. God does not give his children stones when they ask for bread.