When bad things happen to good people, Christians of all ages have questions. Teenagers especially may wonder where God is when tragedies, disasters, and tough times hit.
It doesn’t take long for young people to discover that life doesn’t always seem fair. Sometimes, the odds seem stacked against you.
Discussion Starter: When Bad Things Happen to Good People
To spark conversation on this topic, watch the movie Holes as a group. Then follow it up with this devotion. It’s one of many great activities from Bryan Belknap’s Blockbuster Movie Events for Youth Ministry: Relevant Retreats and Movie Nights.
Holes introduces Stanley Yelnats (Shi LeBeouf), a young man who follows his family’s tradition of having incredibly bad luck. Wrongfully convicted of stealing shoes and sentenced to juvenile detention, Stanley joins the ranks of the orange jump-suited teen prisoners at Camp Green Lake. Located in a barren desert, the “camp” forces kids to dig massive holes as “rehabilitation.”
As Stanley slowly makes friends among the delinquents, he begins to suspect that the warden (Sigourney Weaver), psychotic guard Mr. Sir (Jon Voight), and whacked-out Dr. Pendanski (Tim Blake Nelson) are less interested in rehabilitation than finding something buried in the dried-up lake bed. It’s up to Stanley and his buddy Zero (Khleo Thomas) to unravel the mystery of the hidden treasure of ancient outlaw Kissing Kate Barlow. Then they must use what they discover to secure their freedom.
This movie hits perfect notes of humor, adventure, mystery, sweetness, and meaning. The plot dives into issues such as generational sin, judgment, mercy, racism, friendship, substitution, grace, and oppression.
Holes becomes a valuable ministry tool by addressing the conundrum of when bad things happen to good people. Help young people lay the blame for tragedy at the feet of the proper culprits instead of on their loving Lord.
Gather everyone around the TV to watch the movie. Start the film, sit back, relax, and enjoy! After the movie, allow a five-minute stretch and bathroom break.
When everyone has returned, ask:
How would you have felt if you’d been a character in the movie who didn’t “earn” the bad things that happen?
How have you felt when you’ve been involved in a bad experience you didn’t really deserve?
What do you think about God when you learn of horrible current or historical events that affect seemingly decent people? Explain.
When you hear people blame God for painful or unjust events, do you think it’s fair? Why or why not?
The Biblical Enquirer
Say: Next let’s explore when bad things happen to good people in the Bible.