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Posted on May 22, 2017 by Mike LeDuke

Satan, God, and Disaster

Why does God allow suffering?

Have you ever asked yourself that question? Or have you ever been asked it? It’s a difficult question to consider. It’s one that indeed challenges many people’s faith.

In fact, after our consideration in the last post, we could ask an even more difficult question: not just why does God allow suffering, but why does a loving God cause suffering?

Over and over, we noted in the last post that disaster and calamity come from the hand of God. They aren’t the work of a supernatural being called “Satan”––instead, Scripture is clear: God sends disaster and trouble.

Yet, why would a loving God create disaster? And, since Satan is certainly a Biblical term, where does Satan even fit into all of this?

Though we won’t have room to cover the last question in this post, we will be able to consider the first. We’ll come back to the question about Satan at a future point in time.

The book of Job gives a powerful insight into this first question. To begin, Job reinforces the concept that disaster comes from God. After Job lost his possessions and his children, he made a very straightforward statement:

“And he said, ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD’” (Job 1:21).

In the next chapter, Job was struck with boils. Yet, his response was the same:

“Then his wife said to him, ‘Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.’ But he said to her, ‘You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?’ In all this Job did not sin with his lips” (Job 2:9-10).

Job understood that his difficulties came from God. And he accepted that.

But, as time went on, Job was tormented by his friends––they insisted over and over that he must have somehow sinned in order for all of this evil to have come upon him (Job 4:7-8; Job 22:5). In his frustration, Job began to lose the right perspective; he forgot that God is right in everything that He does:

“Oh, that I knew where I might find him, that I might come even to his seat! I would lay my case before him and fill my mouth with arguments. I would know what he would answer me and understand what he would say to me. Would he contend with me in the greatness of his power? No; he would pay attention to me” (Job 23:3-6).

And so Job accused God of injustice. If only he could stand before God, then he could prove that he had been righteous and was undeserving of what had befallen him! Thus, Job’s original attitude––the one where Scripture adds the comment that Job did not “sin with his lips”––had been lost.

Nevertheless, by the end of the book, Job has learned that God is right in all things:

“Then Job answered the LORD and said: ‘I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted…therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes’” (Job 42:1-2, 6).

God brought affliction into Job’s life. He brought tragedy. He brought disaster.

God was the source of it all.

And to what end? How could a loving God do this to one of His servants?

Because through this tragedy, Job attitude and understanding were moulded. Job was taught to be a more faithful servant, and learned that God was right in everything that He does.

Thus, one of the reasons that God brings suffering is because suffering is what teaches us. It is through suffering that we grow and become, ultimately, more like His son, who suffered even to the point of giving his life.

- Jason Hensley