This is our second day of venturing out into uncomfortable waters concerning the connection between God and trouble. Yesterday we contemplated God’s sovereign control over everything. Today’s truth is perhaps even more uncomfortable! It is that – there’s no escaping it – God is complicit in our trouble.
The best place to start is with the story of Job, the quintessential story of faith under fire. Was Satan free to strike Job at will? No, Satan had to ask permission from God, and God set boundaries on Satan’s power to harm.
It was Joseph’s brothers who betrayed him. THEY sold him as a slave to merchants traveling to Egypt. But many years later, when his brothers came to the horrifying realization that Pharaoh’s official was none other than their little brother Joseph, Joseph said an amazing thing to them:
“And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you.” (Genesis 45:5)
Years later he would reaffirm this conclusion to his brothers: “Don’t be afraid. You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish…the saving of many lives.” (Genesis 50:19-20)
God entrusted Paul with direct revelation and knowledge unlike any other man outside of Jesus. So to keep him from becoming proud, God gave him a “thorn in the flesh,” also called in the same verse “a messenger of Satan.” (II Corinthians 12:7)
And the most beautiful gift ever given, our salvation, which brings us richness and joy every day, is the result of the most horrific suffering and vile crime ever committed, when Satan struck Jesus on the cross. (I Corinthians 2:7-8)
While there are aspects of the mystery not to be grasped this side of Heaven, what is abundantly clear is that the forces of Heaven (good) and Hell (evil) come together in pain. Trouble is where these opposite forces meet to work for entirely opposite ends: God to lift, bless and strengthen; Satan to bring down, kill and destroy.
Who wins? That, my friends, depends on us. Better or bitter. Which will it be?
THOUGHT TO PONDER: Does knowing that God and Satan meet together in trouble influence how we view it? How?
What do you think? Please leave a comment!