When bad things happen to good people, Christians of all ages have questions. Teenagers in particular may wonder where God is when tragedies, disasters, and difficult times arise.
It doesn’t take young people long to discover that life doesn’t always seem fair. Sometimes the odds seem against you.
Discussion Starter: When Bad Things Happen to Good People
To spark conversation on this topic, watch the film Holes as a group. Then follow him with that devotion. This is one of Bryan Belknap’s many great activities Blockbuster Film Events for Youth Ministry: relevant retreats and film nights.
Holes features Stanley Yelnats (Shi LeBeouf), a young man who follows his family’s tradition of having incredible bad luck. Wrongly convicted of stealing shoes and sentenced to juvenile detention, Stanley joins the ranks of teenage prisoners in orange jumpsuits at Camp Green Lake. Set in a barren desert, the “camp” requires children to dig massive holes as a form of “rehabilitation”.
As Stanley slowly makes friends among the delinquents, he begins to suspect that Warden (Sigourney Weaver), psychotic warden Mr. Sir (Jon Voight), and Dr. Pendanski (Tim Blake Nelson) are less interested in rehabilitation than by searching for something buried in the dry lake bed. It’s up to Stanley and his pal Zero (Khleo Thomas) to unravel the mystery of former outlaw Kissing Kate Barlow’s hidden treasure. Then they must use what they discover to secure their freedom.
This film hits the perfect notes of humor, adventure, mystery, sweetness and meaning. The plot delves into issues such as generational sin, judgment, mercy, racism, friendship, substitution, grace, and oppression.
Holes becomes a valuable ministry tool in addressing the conundrum of when bad things happen to good people. Help young people to blame the tragedy on the real culprits rather than on their loving Lord.
Gather everyone around the TV to watch the movie. Start the movie, sit back, relax and enjoy! After the movie, give yourself a five-minute stretch and a restroom break.
When everyone has returned, ask:
How would you have felt if you had been a character in the film who hadn’t “earned” the bad things that happen?
How did you feel when you got involved in a bad experience that you didn’t really deserve?
How do you feel about God when you learn of horrible current or historical events affecting seemingly honest people? Explain.
When you hear people blaming God for painful or unjust events, do you think that’s right? Why or why not?
The Biblical Seeker
Say: Next, let’s explore when bad things happen to good people in the Bible.