It would have not been appropriate, and even misleading to only release the opinions of the godless people of “Part One” without also giving the Christian witness of “Part Two” at the same time. So now, I have before me the daunting task of laying down 10 vocal tracks for almost an hour and forty-five minutes of music – my greatest compositional undertaking to date. Please just say a short prayer for my voice right now that I’ll be able to do the music justice with the quality of my voice. I am not a trained singer, and the quality of my voice tends to shift from day to day. Some days it’s pretty acceptable, and some days, it’s pretty off, so I just have to wait a few days until it comes back again so I can continue recording, which makes the whole process kind of tedious. Believe me, I’ve tried to find a singer, but the people I’ve found with a good voice can’t keep up with the key and time signature changes of my music. Maybe you can pray for that too!
So what shall we talk about this month? As a Christian, have you ever kind of wondered when something bad happens in your life, who’s responsible for it? Of course, many times, we’re responsible by just doing stupid things, taking unnecessary risks, or just making bad judgment calls. But that’s not the kind of bad things I’m talking about. What I’m talking about are those bad things that we don’t ask to happen to us – things that are beyond our control.
If we believe in the Fall of humankind through the sin of Adam and Eve, when mortality and sin first came into being, we know all sorts of other nasty stuff also came into being, like diseases, pestilence, natural disasters, calamity, etc., even the need for the final judgment of everyone’s eternal destinies. One of the most common questions I’m admittedly tired of hearing from nonbelievers is, “If there’s a God, why does he allow such bad things to happen?” Well, that’s a perfectly acceptable question from someone who does not believe in repercussions of the first sin. But it perplexes me when a fairly mature Christian asks that question.
First off, we have to know as believers that God is always in control of everything. The only thing He has decided not to have control over is the free will He has given us. Yet, He takes our free will decisions (having known what we will decide beforehand) and incorporates them into His will so His overall plan for humanity will come to pass anyway! But some Christians believe that when something bad happens to them, it is an attack from Satan or a demon, as if Satan has the power to afflict who he wants at any time he wants. While it is true we really need to understand the power Satan does have, we need to be careful in not buying into the idea that “there’s a devil behind every bush”, and that everything bad that happens to us is a demonic attack.
Some, even well studied Bible scholars, believe the book of Job is strictly allegorical and not to be taken literally. But even if it were allegorical, it is in the Bible for a reason, for we are taught “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness...” (2 Timothy 3:16) If the scripture is used for teaching, what do we learn from the Book of Job? First off, Satan needed permission from God to test Job. And secondly (which disturbs many Christians), God allowed Satan to do his worst to Job, just short of taking his life. These same disturbed Christians seem not to be satisfied with the outcome of Job’s life when he was blessed by God beyond measure for his faithfulness and obedience to the Lord through all his trials. They want to question why God would put Job through such harrowing tribulation and suffering to begin with. But since the original sin, this is nothing new. From that point on, life has become one big test of faith. Those who prove themselves faithful to God will be blessed (here and eternally), and those who don’t, will not.
There has been a great amount of confusion caused by misunderstanding of certain scriptures pertaining to the power that Satan supposedly has over the earth at this present time. In some Bible translations, In Ephesians 2:2 , Satan is called “the prince of the power of the air”, and in John 12:31, “...ruler of this world”. Some assume this means Satan has full, unlimited power over the earth. But in the biblical sense, a “prince” is not a “king”. Christ is now king, as we read in Matthew 28:18 after His resurrection, “Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All power and authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth”. It is true Satan is the major influence on the ideals, opinions, goals, hopes and views of the majority of people. The false religions of the world are under his control and have sprung from his lies and deceptions.
But Satan does not “rule” the world completely; God is still sovereign. But it does mean that God, in His infinite wisdom, has allowed Satan to operate in this world within the boundaries God has set for him. When the Bible says Satan has power over the world, we must remember that God has given him domain over unbelievers only. Believers are no longer under the rule of Satan. “For He (The Father) has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sin.” (Colossians 1:13) Furthermore, 2 Corinthians 4:4: “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel, of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”
So when something bad happens in our lives, and we feel we’re being attacked by the devil, the question we tend to ask is why he’s attacking us. We can speculate all sorts of things. Maybe he’s trying to nullify or compromise a blessing or gift we’ve received. Maybe he’s trying to rob us of our faith in God’s provision and protection. Maybe he’s even trying to make us angry at God. The list could go on and on. But a more pertinent question might be, “Why is God allowing Satan to attack me?” We know for a fact our Lord only wants what is best for us. So, we must have the faith that God has a good reason. I’m telling you, nine times out of ten it’s because God sees that we have a deficiency in our spiritual life and our relationship with Christ that needs to be strengthened. It might be that our prayer regiment is weak, and He wants us to go to Him more often with our needs rather than depending upon our own wisdom. (James 1:4) It might simply be to make us stronger spiritual warriors. (Romans 5:3,4) He may be teaching us discernment. Maybe we’re being “pruned that we might bear more fruit (John 15:2) How about to qualify us for the kingdom of God? (2 Thessalonians 1:4,5) With the right spiritual attitude, we can turn something bad into something good and thwart the devil’s plans of overwhelming and depressing us. (It is important to note God works with each of us uniquely, and asks more of some of us than He does others. Each of us spiritually mature at different rates, and God has different intensities of plans and ministries for all of us that require more or less refining.)
The other one out of ten times God allows trials in our lives is more subtle. It involves how God choreographs every single minute detail to work out so His overall master plan will come to pass. We mere mortals cannot see how these details play out. We cannot see how our suffering can have a cause and effect on any number of other people. Our suffering can actually be a blessing to others when they realize they have it good compared to what we’re going through! And, again, with the proper attitude, we can be pillars of faith to others that may benefit them when they go through their trials.
So, have no fear. God is in control, and always will be. He accommodates our free will decisions, yet, having known them beforehand, divinely weaves them into His perfect will. That’s why some prayers are answered in this lifetime, and some are not. The Word of God does not promise the Christian life will be a rose garden – quite the opposite! If you’re trying to lead a faithful, obedient life for the Lord, you can pray for the strength to weather any storm. Actively work with the Holy Spirit, and accept God’s destiny for you with an open mind. Let’s learn those valuable lessons from our suffering.
I John 4:4b, "...greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world."