Age-Old Question

by Rayola Kelley

Q: I have a problem with Christians saying that Satan is causing calamities in their lives. God is greater and more powerful than Satan, so how is Satan able to come against a Christian? On the other hand, why would God allow such calamities if we belong to Him? I don’t quite understand this.

A: This has been the age-old struggle for people who follow God. After all, many people claim they do not believe in God because of the various calamities occurring in the world. They debate and conclude that if our God allows people to suffer in such a way, He is not the type of God they want to love and serve.

       I have struggled with this issue as well. Life rarely makes sense. In my desire to defend the character of my God during the onslaught of such unbelief and attacks, I have studied Job and the crucifixion of Jesus. These are the conclusions I have drawn from my studies. Perhaps they might benefit you.

1)       If I could understand all the issues pertaining to life, I would be God. God does not have to explain the ways of life to us. He maintains His right to keep certain matters hidden from our eyes. These matters are not for us to know, and what we need to know can be found in God’s Word.

2)       Much of my struggle over the issues of life is tied up with my creeds about God. Often, that which life challenges are our cement creeds that we immediately fall back on when judging the unpredictable matters pertaining to life. It is not that I was wrong about God in my understanding. Rather, it is that I was limited in my understanding about what He was trying to accomplish in the scheme of eternity. In the past, when I have judged the matters of life with my creeds, I have later discovered that I not only was incorrect, but it sometimes brought me to despair as I struggled with the doubts that it often produced towards God and His intentions in regards to my life.

3)       Satan is subject to God’s authority. God allows Satan to sift us as a means of testing and establishing us in our walk. Paul talked about fighting the good fight, finishing the course, and keeping the faith. Obviously, Satan will buffet those who are serving God, but such buffeting establishes His saints more on the Rock of Ages. Satan also tries to sway us from our course. Therefore, we must learn to guard our life in Christ. Satan’s main goal is to undermine our faith in God. He wants us to accuse God of failing us, thereby concluding that our faith in Him is unwarranted and foolish.

4)       This brings me to my final point. Our life in Christ and our walk through this world is a matter of faith. Faith begins where personal understanding ends. Faith is not a matter of defending our God in a situation, but choosing to trust Him when everything in life and the world is against us.

       In my years of following God, I have learned the real issue surrounding life is not the calamities of life, although they appear to mock the very existence of God. The real issue is always the same for every saint: Will I trust God even though He slays me in those calamities? It is like Peter. There was a time Jesus made some pretty hard statements that seemed out of order. Many of His disciples ceased to follow Him. Even though Peter most likely did not understand the real meaning behind Jesus’ statements, he remained. Jesus asked Him if he was going to leave as well. 

Peter voiced my sentiments when my creeds and understanding about a matter elude me, and seem to mock my faith in God: “…Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God” (John 6:68b-69).

       All saints know that there is nowhere else to go but Jesus. It is not a matter of extreme piousness or being overly intelligent. It is just the realization that outside of God, life not only lacks real meaning, but there is no hope. It is at this trying time that many saints have learned to give up their need to understand matters, and by faith, come into the abiding place of rest and peace by hiding in the cleft of the Rock.

       No doubt these are the conclusions you have come to. However, we must encounter such calamities to be established in a genuine faith that will not only stand, but will endure into eternity (1 Peter 1:5-9)