Philippians 1:12 "But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel, 13 so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ;14 and most of the brethren in the Lord, having become confident by my chains, are much more bold to speak the word without fear."
Wasn't Jesus not only a good guy but perfect, spotless, and blameless? If you feel He is an exception what about Joseph who falsely accused rotted in prison for a while after being sold into slavery by his own brothers? How about David who had to flee for his life only for being loyal to insecure slightly demented king who was supposed to love him? How about Elijah who was hunted by his own king as if he were Bin Laden? Jeremiah was locked up by his own king just for telling the truth. The list of Old Testament men of faith who suffered just for being faithful is long...
"Ok" you say. "But that is the Old Testament. Everything was crazy in the Old Testament".
Let's try the New Testament then. Jesus warned his disciples that they would be hated for following Him. He even declared the day would come when men would kill His followers and think they were doing God a favour. James was killed before the New Testament ink was dry. Peter was imprisoned. Paul was imprisoned multiple times. Various early church writers claim Peter was crucified upside-down in Rome by Nero in AD 64. We know from the Bible that he did die for his faith but we're not told how.
All this to say that the evidence is ample that bad things happen to God's people and often the worst things happen to the best or at least boldest of them. Why? Is God asleep at the wheel? The Bible says He never slumbers or sleeps. Does He not care? The Bible says we can cast all our cares on Him because He cares for us.
In Hollywood good always wins but bad usually happens along the way. In fact Hollywood makes their money on the story lines of good versus evil where it appears evil will inevitably win and then suddenly at the end good rises from an apparently impossible situation to triumph. Why? Because satan is a copycat and he ultimately knows how this whole controversy between good and evil that we live everyday ends.
Cancer, alzheimers, als, and the list goes on are just way people seem to suffer so unfairly. This does not even take into account the millions upon millions who go to bed hungry everyday in a world where there is plenty for everyone. Many thinking people become atheists when they consider the evil in the world and an apparently all powerful God who seems to sit by and do nothing.
Apparently the church in Philippi was discouraged by Paul’s imprisonment. It speaks to me of our selfishness when we can be ok with suffering as long as it doesn't happen to us or those we love. Then suddenly God is questioned, even resented, and sometimes written off completely.
What does Paul say? Paul says "Guys don't worry. This is a good thing. The Good News is reaching places and people it never would have had I remained free."
Joseph after rising from prison to be Pharaoh's right hand man and then guiding the nation through a drought that would have wiped them out gained an interesting perspective on his harsh life. When reunited with his brothers who sold him into slavery he said "You meant it for harm but God meant it for good".
There are plenty of stories where God does rescue His people from evil and harm. Is He arbitrary? No. The Bible says He has no favourites.
To understand all this one must have big picture perspective. God's ultimate goal for us is not safe passage through this life. His goal is to get us all Home at any cost. He is in a war with Satan who has no morals and does not care at all. He has nothing to lose because he knows ultimately he will be defeated. If he could have his way we would all be destroyed but we're not. Why? Because we're being protected by our Father. The question is why does He sometimes remove that protection and let hell's fury blow through our lives like a raging tornado? Why did He heal my cancer but not my mom's?
Paul told us the answer. See the "bad" people who put Paul in prison are His children too and He wants them Home as well. In the big picture when the last scene closes and eternity with God begins we will have the opportunity to review the entire story of the war that was waged here on earth. Then we will see that every time God seemed to turn His back on us it permitted at least one more person to find Him and make it Home.
Evil is real and war is awful but God will win and good will triumph and it will all happen in such away that no one will ever question God's heart again. God is love and the war will prove how true it is. Every good guy who suffered will rejoice to see the good it brought and through their sacrifice every "bad" guy will have an opportunity to find God and choose good.
Don't despair when good guys go down in the battle. They will rise and more good will come from it. God makes no mistakes.