Colorado Life Coach: When Bad Things Happen to Good People

3138115825_83295552f9_oBad things happen to good people.

This is reality.

It’s uncomfortable. It’s not fair. But it’s true.

If it’s true, how can we respond?

1. We blame those who suffer. If they truly didn’t do anything wrong, and something bad happened to them, then I’m also at risk. Since I don’t want to deal with that, I’ll come up with something they did to deserve what they got.

~Your dad died. Did you know he smoked for years? I heard he ate tons of beef, and never touched salads! He always was a risk-taker!

~Your child struggles with focus and attention issues. They don’t even discipline that little ruffian! Can you believe they let him act like that in public? No wonder he’s such a problem.

~Your spouse leaves you. If she would have been a better wife, he would have stayed. She really didn’t keep herself in very good shape, can you blame him. I know he had an affair, but if she would have been more available for sex, he wouldn’t have looked elsewhere.

~You struggle with sleep. If you’d listen to God when you’re awake, he wouldn’t have to keep you up at night to get your attention. If you’d just…then you’d sleep.

We blame suffering people. What’s up with that? Where’s our compassion? Would we want to be treated that way in the midst of our hardest days?

I think we do it to insulate ourselves. If we can find blame with the person who suffers, maybe we can avoid whatever it is that they did, and we won’t have to go through it too!

If their dad died and he smoked, I’ll make sure not to smoke, and then I won’t die.

If their kid struggles with attention, they must be doing something wrong. I’ll parent correctly, and my children won’t struggle.

If their spouse leaves them, they must not have been a very good wife. I’ll be the best wife. I’ll stay in shape, and have lots of sex, then my husband won’t leave me.

If she struggles with sleep, she must be doing something to make this happen. I’ll listen to God during the day, so he won’t have to wake me up. I’ll do all the right things so I won’t have to deal with this issue!

Here’s the problem. Life is hard. We all suffer. Things happen.

Sometimes things happen to us because of our poor choices or bad character traits. If I keep getting fired because I don’t do what is expected of me, I need to look at myself, and make some changes. But, if I get fired due to poor economic conditions, it wouldn’t feel very loving to have people tell me it was my fault because I didn’t work hard enough. That kind of statement may make the other person feel more stable in their own job, but it doesn’t help me when I’m out of work and scared.

2. We love them. We see their suffering and join them in it. This doesn’t mean we get all depressed and let it take us down. It means we sit with them. We let them talk and cry. We don’t rush them through their pain. We listen some more, or sit next to them in silence.

I’ve found that God’s grace has gotten me through most of the issues listed above. (My spouse never left me)! I had friends say most of those comments. They made me feel even more sad, more alone, and more scared. There were very few times when people just sat with me through a difficult time. God did! God does!

Here’s the rub: If God allows things that we would consider “bad” to happen to those we would consider “good,” then how do we keep ourselves away from suffering? If it’s not their fault, then it could happen to me, too!


Life is not fair. Life is not easy. But Jesus has promised to walk through it with us, and give us the strength and courage to make it through to the other side.

This post written by Colorado Life Coach, Carrie O’Toole, M.A.


  1. Thank you for breaking the rationale down. I see where you’re coming from. But I see the scenario all over the place. I’ve experienced it numerous times. It’s to the point where I could almost convince myself that I am to blame for all that’s awry in the world.

    But, fear not, I get up every morning. I don’t have depression (unless under duress) and I do God’s work with ever ounce of my being. It’s a worthwhile life, even if it’s painful.

    Thank you for your compassion. God bless you. (Also in Colorado)

  2. Thanks for reading and commenting Meredith. I think many of us could start to feel the way you do. Glad you’re able to keep going! Bless you as well. What part of Colorado are you in? Carrie

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