In Jesus day the prevailing opinion was that if something bad happened to you it was because you were a bad person. Whilst it is true that sin always has consequences…often for the victim, the innocent party, as much as the perpetrator…it is also undeniable that sometimes bad things happen to good people.
 … Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices.  Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way?  I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.  Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem?  I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”
 Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it but did not find any.  So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’  “ ‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilise it.  If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’”
Luke 13: 1-9 (NIV)
Even today we often find a leftover of that old attitude. I remember that once my wife and I became aware that Jesus was warning us, in our prayers and our reading of scripture, that we were about to have a rocky time in our lives, but assured us of his friendship through it all. Wendy, who used to be a canoe instructor, had a dream about us going over a waterfall in a Canadian canoe. At the bottom all our stuff was in the water, floating away down the river, but there was a man on the bank who was intent on our rescue, and although the dream ended there, she woke with the assurance that everything would be OK.
Before too long, a set of circumstances caused us to lose income, our rented home, to have to give up our dogs to a rescue, to sell most of our furniture and to begin a time of living with another family, who kindly gave us a place to live.
Some people in our church could not believe we had done nothing wrong because the bad things happened. The idea that God had warned us in advance, and was with us in it was a bridge too far for their theology. There had to be some hidden sin that we hadn’t come clean about.
After six months everything turned around. We both had secure, well-paying jobs. We were able to get a mortgage and buy our own house and replace our furniture. Jesus had kept his promise.
Among the many lessons we learned was this: without the assurance of the dream it would have been so easy for us to slip into the mindset that says, I’m a good person. I’ve done nothing wrong. Why is this happening to me…I don’t deserve it!”
Good things, bad things…ultimately they are all a consequence of living in a world that has turned it’s back on a God who loves and longs for a reconciliation. God’s patience gives us multiple opportunities to acknowledge our need of forgiveness and help to be the sort of people we were made to be.
None of us really deserves anything good…it’s a wonder we get so much.