Why (at Least Some) Bad Things Happen


I don’t often get a sense of “why bad things happen.” You know, the “senseless” stuff we didn’t plan on—illness, lost income, the death of a friend. But a few years back, while writing the screenplay for my movie Healing River, I got a meaningful glimpse.

My car was entering the final curve on a nearby hill when the tail lights on the Mercedes-Benz in front of me lit up. No big, I was already starting to brake anyway. Except that this guy was braking harder than me. Way harder. So I pressed down and angled my steering wheel toward the median. The maneuver should have been enough, but slick yellow median paint is not traction-friendly stuff. My wheels locked-up and glided ahead, striking the corner of the now-halted Mercedes.

A moment later, I saw why the Mercedes had braked so hard. The car directly in front of him had collided with a beater from the opposing traffic, that car having suddenly veered onto our side of the road. The cause became clear when a cop pulled the barely conscious driver out of his automobile. “Heroin!” the officer said with disgust. I walked a few steps forward and glanced into the crunched beater. There on the passenger seat was a used hypodermic needle.

Outside of the “coincidence” that I was currently working on a screenplay about a death caused by a heroin-using driver, the incident produced no immediate tingle of Greater Purpose in me. Nor did I sense any upside when my right shoulder and lower back began to complain (both injuries turned out to be permanent).

But then, one by one, reasons began to materialize:

First, to my surprise, the addict’s insurance company didn’t dispute the charges. They offered me twice the value of my car, a 28-year-old Porsche that I’d wanted to sell for years, but that had needed pricier repairs than it was worth.

Second, X-rays revealed an issue I needed to know about (arthritis). I’ve since altered my writing schedule to include therapy and walking breaks from my desk-jockey life.

Finally, the addict, Christopher, was sent to a drug treatment center which may well have been the turning point of his life. I’ve prayed for him ever since, and believe this may have been the main reason the incident occurred. My back and shoulder in exchange for a soul, God? Count me in.

Yes, I’m implying there’s Someone behind all this, Someone with a Plan, and not only that bad things happen for reasons, but that our recognizing and participating in those reasons is, at least sometimes, part of the Plan. Bringing good from evil is God’s M.O. And he calls us to complete the process. Am I imagining a Greater Purpose where there is none? Could be. But every time I taste my wife’s lemon bars I realize, This is why God created lemons.

The Old Testament’s Joseph rose to a position of power that enabled him to save thousands of lives. He then told his brothers, who’d indirectly put him on this path by selling him into slavery, “You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.” (Genesis 50:20) Joseph got it. He was participating in the Plan.

Are we?


About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
This entry was posted in For Pastors and Teachers, Quips and Quotes and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

54 Responses to Why (at Least Some) Bad Things Happen

  1. The reason you were born. “Count me in.” You rock, and God is so Good!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Julia says:

    Excellent explanation why things happen the way they do…. Turns out it is all for Gods glory whether we realize it or not. Blessings.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. rwfrohlich says:

    Amen is all I can say.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Gypsy says:

    When I had this question sometime ago, I was taught that God is not an author of bad. But even in the bad situations, He orchestrates His good works.
    Such goodness came out of your difficult situation. And I’m so glad that you see it and bless God for it.
    Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. wynneleon says:

    I love the good news in this post about bad stuff. When our faith and values keep us out of trouble, we often aren’t able to see the full-circle that bad brings. And when we go through tough things, our faith and values keep us focused on the Divine which can make everything happen for good. And when we are really we get to see that. Love this post – thanks, Mitch!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. What a blessing to see the good and never frame ourselves as a victim but rather a willing participant in God’s plan! ❣

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thank you for sharing this very experienced story, Mitch! I fully agree with you. For a long time i would not have believed this, but after i had made similar experiences, now i am knowing there is a plan. xx Michael

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Dora says:

    “Participating in the Plan” has a nice ring to it. :>)

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Mitch, I would quibble a bit here. Romans 8:28 says, “We know that all things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to his purpose.” What it actually says in the Greek is that all things work together into the good. Into. I think that theologically it’s better to say that God works to use everything that happens to accomplish good. Said another way, even when bad things happen, God works to bring some goodness out of it. That’s different than saying it’s all part of God’s plan—unless you mean that God plans to transform the bad into some good. It’s an important distinction because if we’re not careful with the language here we could end up making God responsible for evil. Having said all that, your story—this episode of your life—is a great example of how God brought good out of tragedy, and of how your perceptiveness enabled you to see that.

    Liked by 4 people

    • mitchteemley says:

      Thanks, Steve, and I agree! I’ve often quoted the NASB translation “God causes all things to work together for good” in support of the same point. When I say, “why (at least some) bad things happen,” I really do mean that God ‘allows’ them to happen, not that he designs or orchestrates them to do so, but that he is infinitely able to bring good from them. You make a good point re. the wording.

      Liked by 2 people

    • numrhood says:

      steve quote romans 33:53


  10. Sometimes it’s easier to spy God’s reasons for the hard stuff in life when we’re looking in life’s rear-view mirror. Thanks for sharing this account from your own life, and thanks for making me stop to ponder my own life. ~ Cindie

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Yernasia Quorelios says:

    💜 3DExistence and Experience


    Liked by 1 person

  12. leendadll says:

    When struggling for meaning to things, I remind myself that not seeing a pupose doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Maybe it’s a piece to a bigger puzzle. Or maybe the purpose was something that can’t bee seen – an accident avoided or I was a piece in someone else’s puzzle.

    Liked by 3 people

  13. I have seen God turn many tragic or bad things into good for the glory of God. Like Cindie stated, they were more easily recognized when looking through, “life’s rear-view mirror.” At the moment, I didn’t see what good could come from the situation but had to trust God’s sovereignty.

    Liked by 3 people

  14. ejstoo says:

    Sometimes things happen because people make poor decisions. Sometimes it helps them make decision to make better decisions and sometimes not. Glad things worked out.

    Liked by 3 people

  15. karanoel says:

    Powerful post, Mitch!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Mary Sweeney says:

    Thanks for sharing this, Mitch! God DID have a greater purpose!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I accidently stumbled upon this lovely post… or did I? 😉
    It was pleasure to read your thoughts, thank-you.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Mitch, doesn’t it make life DO much easier when we believe God has a reason for everything, and that reason is good?

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Holy lemon-AID, Desk-jockey! So well said. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Ann Coleman says:

    I admit I struggle with this one. I can believe that God can make good things come out of any situation, and that he will do that if we’re open to it. And I can believe that sometimes bad things happen for a good reason that we just can’t see right away, if ever. But I’m not sure about everything always happening according to plan. That’s a hard one for a parent whose child has just died to believe, for instance. So, as I say, I struggle.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. K.L. Hale says:

    Amen, Mitch! I’ve been in two accidents, one was a motorcycle accident at 36 that has wreaked havoc to this day. The other last year when I was rear-ended by a retired music teacher in my area. We both have some additional lower back issues, but bonded over coffee (I was headed to a coffee shop and he hit me reaching down for his!) and God’s grace. We don’t see the big picture. But I love keeping my view as wide as possible and staying in the plan (and my lane, too! Lol).

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Gary Fultz says:

    I’ll admit to some Eeyore moments lacking enthusiasm about God’s plans and out-workings in life. 40 years of death valley crossings with a few mount Everest moments with a bright but severely crippled child seemed to put us in the “hard to sell” pumpkin patch. “But God” (two amazing words when joined) has given us many stories, way beyond the life flights, casts and surgeries.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Wise Hearted says:

    I like to think of this way. Nothing happen in my life that God cannot use for His glory and my good. I believe that because He walks with through the Holy Spirit that lives in my soul. So everything that happens to me brought on by my hands, others hands, God’s hand has to go through God to get to me. I like the way you progressed to your answer for why….

    Liked by 1 person

  24. numrhood says:

    do you owe a 53 year old automobile & a 25 dollar bill & a 45 dollar bill

    Liked by 1 person

  25. PS says:

    Ecclesiastical. So that we find nothing but God! Retired firefighter. Familiar with grief and sorrow.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. cushn4 says:

    Thank you for your writing. I have been struggling with my “purpose” since reaching a milestone in life, retirement. I also recently came across many different bible devotionals centering around the “Joseph” theme and how he was sold to slavery, but it was meant for good. Your words reinforce the message God is trying to instill in me at this restful, but restless time in my life. God bless you and hope God will bring complete healing to your aches and pains. I will say a prayer for you and the addict, Christopher.

    Liked by 1 person

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