Have you ever wondered why tornadoes, hurricanes and lightning strikes are often classified as acts of God? What about people who suffer some personal disaster and wonder why God is slamming them with what they consider as tests and trials? And then, there are those who angrily shake their fist towards the heavens, wondering why God caused a baby to die… or some child suffering abuse… or people to die from starvation or lose their home from natural disaster, or…
Wow. Why is it that the Lord seems to get blamed for all the horrible things that happen in this world? Have they ever stopped to consider the possibility that God is not the one causing problems?
Not very long ago, we heard from a woman who listed a long list of health challenges she had endured for several years. What was disconcerting was her belief that her health challenges were from God. She said she constantly implored Him to stop. One tiny problem with that line of thinking; God is not the one who makes people sick. There is a thief (satan) who comes in (like a roaring lion) to wreak havoc on the lives of unsuspecting people. Jesus came to give us abundant life.
The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows).
John 10:10 [AMP]
10Jesus told this simple story, but they had no idea what he was talking about. So he tried again. “I’ll be explicit, then. I am the Gate for the sheep. All those others are up to no good—sheep stealers, every one of them. But the sheep didn’t listen to them. I am the Gate. Anyone who goes through me will be cared for—will freely go in and out, and find pasture. A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy. I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.
John 10:6-10 [MSG]
Looking at John 10:10, we know that the source of our problems is satan, the thief. While Jesus came to give us abundant life, don’t expect blessings to fall down on you like the proverbial ripe cherries falling from the tree. You need to make sure that there are no unlocked doors or open windows that the thief can climb through to give you trouble.
7 Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully.
8 Be well balanced (temperate, sober of mind), be vigilant and cautious at all times; for that enemy of yours, the devil, roams around like a lion roaring [in fierce hunger], seeking someone to seize upon and devour.
9 Withstand him; be firm in faith [against his onset—rooted, established, strong, immovable, and determined], knowing that the same (identical) sufferings are appointed to your brotherhood (the whole body of Christians) throughout the world.
1 Peter 5:7-9 [AMP]
6-7 So be content with who you are, and don’t put on airs. God’s strong hand is on you; he’ll promote you at the right time. Live carefree before God; he is most careful with you.
He Gets the Last Word
8-11 Keep a cool head. Stay alert. The Devil is poised to pounce, and would like nothing better than to catch you napping. Keep your guard up. You’re not the only ones plunged into these hard times. It’s the same with Christians all over the world. So keep a firm grip on the faith. The suffering won’t last forever. It won’t be long before this generous God who has great plans for us in Christ—eternal and glorious plans they are!—will have you put together and on your feet for good. He gets the last word; yes, he does.
1 Peter 5:6-11 [MSG]
Part of our stance against the works of the devil is, as Peter said above, involves being firm in our faith. So, what is faith?
1 Now faith is the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses].
2 For by [faith—trust and holy fervor born of faith] the men of old had divine testimony borne to them and obtained a good report.
3 By faith we understand that the worlds [during the successive ages] were framed (fashioned, put in order, and equipped for their intended purpose) by the word of God, so that what we see was not made out of things which are visible.
4 [Prompted, actuated] by faith Abel brought God a better and more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, because of which it was testified of him that he was righteous [that he was upright and in right standing with God], and God bore witness by accepting and acknowledging his gifts. And though he died, yet [through the incident] he is still speaking.
5 Because of faith Enoch was caught up and transferred to heaven, so that he did not have a glimpse of death; and he was not found, because God had translated him. For even before he was taken to heaven, he received testimony [still on record] that he had pleased and been satisfactory to God.
6 But without faith it is impossible to please and be satisfactory to Him. For whoever would come near to God must [necessarily] believe that God exists and that He is the rewarder of those who earnestly and diligently seek Him [out].
Hebrews 11:1-6 [AMP]
1-2The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see. The act of faith is what distinguished our ancestors, set them above the crowd.
3By faith, we see the world called into existence by God’s word, what we see created by what we don’t see.
4By an act of faith, Abel brought a better sacrifice to God than Cain. It was what he believed, not what he brought, that made the difference. That’s what God noticed and approved as righteous. After all these centuries, that belief continues to catch our notice.
5-6By an act of faith, Enoch skipped death completely. “They looked all over and couldn’t find him because God had taken him.” We know on the basis of reliable testimony that before he was taken “he pleased God.” It’s impossible to please God apart from faith. And why? Because anyone who wants to approach God must believe both that he exists and that he cares enough to respond to those who seek him.
Hebrews 11:1-6 [MSG]
Wow! Faith is pretty important, right? So then… how does one get faith? The Apostle Paul answers that question. Simply put… faith is a byproduct of our reading, studying and meditating upon the word of the Living God.
So faith comes by hearing [what is told], and what is heard comes by the preaching [of the message that came from the lips] of Christ (the Messiah Himself).
Romans 10:17 [AMP]
But how can people call for help if they don’t know who to trust? And how can they know who to trust if they haven’t heard of the One who can be trusted? And how can they hear if nobody tells them? And how is anyone going to tell them, unless someone is sent to do it? That’s why Scripture exclaims,
A sight to take your breath away!
Grand processions of people
telling all the good things of God!
But not everybody is ready for this, ready to see and hear and act. Isaiah asked what we all ask at one time or another: “Does anyone care, God? Is anyone listening and believing a word of it?” The point is: Before you trust, you have to listen. But unless Christ’s Word is preached, there’s nothing to listen to.
Romans 10:14-17 [MSG]
So what exact words should we have faith in? Well, for starters… you should seek, study, and meditate on those scriptures (like John 10:10) that explain that God is not the cause of your problems. Then, seek, study, and meditate on scriptures that remind us of our Heavenly Father’s goodness. For example:
Every good gift and every perfect (free, large, full) gift is from above; it comes down from the Father of all [that gives] light, in [the shining of] Whom there can be no variation [rising or setting] or shadow cast by His turning [as in an eclipse].
James 1:17 [AMP]
So, my very dear friends, don’t get thrown off course. Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light. There is nothing deceitful in God, nothing two-faced, nothing fickle. He brought us to life using the true Word, showing us off as the crown of all his creatures.
James 1:16-18 [MSG]
Often, the question follows: If there is a God (or, if God is truly Good) then why does [FILL IN THE BLANK] happen?
God created man to have dominion and reign upon this earth (see Genesis 1:26). Rashi (Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki) wrote the following about man’s dominion:
and they shall rule over the fish: Heb. וְיִרְדּוּ This expression contains both the meaning of ruling and the meaning of subservience. If he merits, he rules over the beasts and over the cattle. If he does not merit, he becomes subservient to them, and the beast rules over him. — [from Gen. Rabbah 8:12]
Obviously, that dominion was compromised. It happened in the Garden of Eden where an act of rebellion put somebody else in charge. That somebody is the (lower-case “g”) god of this world. And with satan in charge, is there any wonder why this world is so royally screwed up?
For the god of this world has blinded the unbelievers’ minds [that they should not discern the truth], preventing them from seeing the illuminating light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ (the Messiah), Who is the Image and Likeness of God.
2 Corinthians 4:4 [AMP]
Who is this (lower-case “g”) god of this world? Let’s see how The Message translation renders this passage of scripture (emphasis ours):
If our Message is obscure to anyone, it’s not because we’re holding back in any way. No, it’s because these other people are looking or going the wrong way and refuse to give it serious attention. All they have eyes for is the fashionable god of darkness. They think he can give them what they want, and that they won’t have to bother believing a Truth they can’t see. They’re stone-blind to the dayspring brightness of the Message that shines with Christ, who gives us the best picture of God we’ll ever get.
2 Corinthians 4:3-4 [MSG]
Notice that satan is referred to as the fashionable god of darkness. This doesn’t mean that the devil wears designer clothing. It is a reference to the fact that this world runs after and clings to what the devil has to offer while rejecting what Christ suffered and died to bring us. It explains why people angrily condemn the word of God as “fairy tales” and interpret Biblical statues and precepts as “hate speech.”
What the world doesn’t realize is that they serve a task master who is headed straight for the lake that burns with fire and brimstone. While we rejoice at the devil’s end… we don’t want to see our brothers and sisters go there. The irony is that so many of the deceived ones interpret our attempts at rescuing them as oppression or worse. But if you don’t give attention to any other scripture in this lesson… pay attention to what happens to satan and those who follow his deception:
Then the devil who had led them astray [deceiving and seducing them] was hurled into the fiery lake of burning brimstone, where the beast and false prophet were; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever (through the ages of the ages).
Revelation 20:10 [AMP]
When the thousand years are up, Satan will be let loose from his cell, and will launch again his old work of deceiving the nations, searching out victims in every nook and cranny of earth, even Gog and Magog! He’ll talk them into going to war and will gather a huge army, millions strong. They’ll stream across the earth, surround and lay siege to the camp of God’s holy people, the Beloved City. They’ll no sooner get there than fire will pour out of Heaven and burn them up. The Devil who deceived them will be hurled into Lake Fire and Brimstone, joining the Beast and False Prophet, the three in torment around the clock for ages without end.
Revelation 20:7-10 [MSG]
But before those events in the Book of Revelation occur, satan will continue using what power he possesses, doing whatever he can to ruin lives. That is why it is so very important for us to actively access the exousia — the power and authority — that God provides those who follow Him.
Behold! I have given you authority and power to trample upon serpents and scorpions, and [physical and mental strength and ability] over all the power that the enemy [possesses]; and nothing shall in any way harm you.
Luke 10:19 [AMP]
Jesus said, “I know. I saw Satan fall, a bolt of lightning out of the sky. See what I’ve given you? Safe passage as you walk on snakes and scorpions, and protection from every assault of the Enemy. No one can put a hand on you. All the same, the great triumph is not in your authority over evil, but in God’s authority over you and presence with you. Not what you do for God but what God does for you—that’s the agenda for rejoicing.”
Luke 10:18-20 [MSG]
Walking in the exousia that Jesus provides overrules any power that the devil may have. We not only have the uniform and badge of authority, we have the sidearm and high-powered ammunition to mow him down.
The world (outside of Christ [the Anointed One and His Anointing]) can only groan for change while they continue to suffer under the wicked plans of the enemy. If you are in Christ [the Anointed One and His Anointing], then you have all heaven’s resources available to you. Don’t just sit there, blaming God. Take advantage of those resources that He provided you!
Want to go Deeper?
Our long-form audio teaching Five Men Who Faced the Roaring Lion is available for on-line listening… free of charge.
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You can also download a free copy of our eBook Twelve Years, Two Lives.
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There is a great resource at Bible Gateway, Why Does God Allow Tragedy and Suffering?, that we recommend for greater illumination on this subject. Please check it out or bookmark it for later!
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