Did you ever think about the wrong-headedness of such a question? I mean, that question is way out in left field, so to speak. Now, when I suggest this, I would guess that many people would say, "Yeah! It's not that God allows these things! It's Satan (or evil or sin or ...)." But if you've read much from me, you know I can't go there. I believe in a Sovereign God and if God is Sovereign, nothing happens without His allowing it to happen (as a minimum). No, that's not the problem to which I'm referring. What then?
There are a couple of issues here. First is the premise: There are "good people". "What?" you may (likely) say, "How can you say that?" Well, it's not me. It's the Bible.
None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one (Rom 3:10-12).No, not pretty. And those are just for starters. Indeed, according to Scripture the only "good" that we do is that which is accomplished by God working in us (Phil 2:13). The short answer to the question "Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?" is "He doesn't." There are no good people.
But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away (Isa 64:6).
That's one issue. We think there are "good people" and God thinks otherwise. Whose opinion is right? I think I'd have to go with the One who defines "good". But there is another issue. Assuming God allows things to happen (or even causes them), there is implied in the question a standard. What is it? The implication of the question is that God is required to be nice to us. God has an obligation to us and when bad things happen, He's not meeting His obligations.
Think about it. What is the question asked by believers and the unsaved alike when tragedy strikes? Isn't it "Why me"? Do you see the thinking? "While someone else might deserve this tragic occurence, I don't. What did I do to deserve this? Why me?" It's still rooted in the "God has an obligation", but is founded on the "God only does bad things to bad people" line of thinking. It is based in an "earned favor" perspective. Bad people earn God's ire. Good people earn God's favor. I've been good. God owes me favor.
Bottom line, the entire premise of this line of thinking is an elevation of humans and a lowering of God. God owes His creation. We are not merely "His creation", but intrinsically valuable beings to whom He must show favor. And why wouldn't He? We are intrinsically good, right? (I don't think I've ever heard anyone say in a tragic event, "Yeah, I earned that. I definitely had that one coming.")
Paul asks a different question. It is a better question because it elevates God, lowers Man, and aligns with reality. His question is this:
What if God, desiring to show His wrath and to make known His power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of His glory for vessels of mercy, which He has prepared beforehand for glory (Rom 9:22-23)?Let's put that question into the terms we are considering. We ask (nay, demand), "Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people?" Paul asks, "Why does God allow good things to happen to bad people?" Or, weaving the text with the question, "Why would God, who justly and willingly wishes to show His wrath and make His power known, show mercy to prepackaged parcels of evil?"
You see, God allowing bad things to happen to bad people is not surprising, and the Bible says that we are all bad people (Rom 3:23). And we typically forget that we were not made for our benefit. All things were made for Him (Rom 11:36; Col 1:16). If God chose to annihilate all humans whenever He wanted to, it wouldn't mar His justice. Why do bad things happen? Because we've earned them. But remember this, too. If all things are made for Him, then the second reason that bad things happen is for His glory. It's while we're not in trouble enduring hardship that inculcating ourselves with that truth can help prepare us for when we do encounter tragedy. And, as humans, we will. Count on it. Count, also, on God's grace and goodness (1 Peter 4:19).