has puzzled human beings from the beginning of time itself. Why does God allow
bad things to happen? The question is asked in one of the oldest books of the
Old Testament, the book of Job, as well as the New Testament’s last book,
the book of Revelation. The issue is confronted both in the life of Christ as
well as that of his apostles. It confronts us repeatedly even today.
question can be asked in light of our text from Acts 9. This miracle done through
Peter is very similar to a miracle Jesus performed. Through the lessons taught
in this miracle, we can make some assertions concerning bad things in life.
Bad Things Happen to Good People (v. 36)
Paul was in the area of Joppa, an illness befell a woman named Tabitha, or Dorcas.
She is described as a disciple, as one who continually did good and one who
was especially concerned for the poor.
people erroneously assume that illnesses are a sign of God’s disfavor.
That can hardly be said of Tabitha. She is a shining example of virtue and compassion.
Bad Things Happen at Inopportune Times (vv. 37, 38)
appears that the sickness and death of Tabitha surprised her friends and neighbors.
This is usually the case. Even when death comes after a long illness, we are
caught off guard. Tragedy often disrupts the plans of our lives and at the
death of Tabitha people scurried to find Peter, to see if he could come and
Bad Things Produce Understandable Grief (v. 39)
often act like Christians shouldn’t cry. What nonsense! There are things
worth crying about. When someone we love is no longer in our presence, the grief
Peter arrived, the widows who were caring for the body were crying and showing
Peter all the wonderful clothes Tabitha had made for people. In their sorrow,
all they had were memories and they wanted more of them.
Bad Things Must Give Way to God’s Good Things (v. 40-43)
situation is as hopeless as it gets for us humans. Death seems so final to us.
After Peter had dismissed everyone he prayed. Maybe he prayed for wisdom as
to what to do. Maybe he prayed specifically for her resurrection. Maybe both.
any rate, Peter said boldly “Tabitha, get up.” After all, Peter had
seen Jesus raise the dead and he had seen Jesus alive. Well, she did get up.
This is not a promise that our funerals will all be interrupted by the raising
of the corpse. It does, however, say a couple of things. It says that Jesus
is the Lord of life and death and that Peter, as an apostle, is his earthly
representative. It goes deeper and says that God is concerned about the tragedies
of life. Rather than eliminate tragedy He defeats it. Even though the dead in
Christ may not rise in our presence, we can be assured that they will indeed
one can claim to give you the final answer to the problem of bad things. But,
we can see through our tears and see that God wants to do a great work in every
you have heard the story of the Chinese farmer who one day noticed his old horse
had run away. “It is a bad thing,” said his neighbors. He replied,
“How do you know it is a bad thing?”
next day the old horse came back with many wild horses following into his corral.
His neighbors said, “It is a good thing.” He said, “How do you
know it is a good thing?”
old man’s son was out trying to break the wild horses when he fell and
broke his legs. “It is a bad thing,” said the neighbors. He replied,
“How do you know it is a bad thing?”
Chinese warlord came through the area to look for draftees into the army and
passed by his son because he had two broken legs. “It is a good thing,”
said his neighbors. I think you know what he said.
are not always able to accurately know what is ultimately good and what is
ultimately bad. One thing we do know. God is always in the business of making
brief provided by: J. Michael Shannon, Professor of Preaching,
Cincinnati Bible College, Cincinnati, OH