This is possibly the most asked question of all time. Although there have been many correct and effective answers provided by godly believers, the following offers yet another attempt to present a response from a different angle.
Whose Hand Is It?
When tragedy strikes, unbelievers usually point their fingers and scoff, “How can you worship a God who would do something like this? How can a ‘good’ God allow ‘innocent’ people to suffer?” Then we believers are faced with answering a loaded and seemingly unanswerable question.
The majority of my experience has been that when people lament a tragedy, they usually envision the actual hand of God as the instrument used for the destruction. To find clues that will help solve the mystery of whose hand is really the instrument of harm, we will turn to the story of a man famous for pain and suffering: Job.
Satan brought the winds of destruction to Job’s family:
“And the Lord said to Satan, ‘Behold, all that he has is in your power; only do not lay a hand on his person.’ So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord…‘and suddenly a great wind came from across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell on the young people, and they are dead’” (Job 1:12; 19a).
Satan inflicted Job with disease on his body:
“And the Lord said unto Satan, Behold, he is in thine hand; but save his life. So went Satan forth from the presence of the LORD, and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown” (Job 2:6-7).
God may allow Satan to cause earthly suffering but He will never allow Satan to cause eternal suffering. Although Satan can cause temporary affliction for believers, he has no authority over our spiritual eternity. God’s sovereign hand of restraint limits the total amount of harm that Satan wishes to inflict upon mankind. God will soon punish Satan with everlasting destruction.
The name Satan means “adversary.” Satan opposes, contends with, and resists God and His true children at all costs. He is our accuser and our enemy. (People who openly identify with Satan actually hate God more than they like Satan. Some may make a proud profession of their service to Satan with occult symbols tattooed on their bodies and the like, but someday they will realize that their anger should have been directed toward Satan.)
According to the book of Job, all of the forces of nature are under the complete authority of Almighty God:
“By the breath of God frost is given: and the breadth of the waters is straitened. Also by watering He wearieth the thick cloud: He scattereth his bright cloud: And it is turned round about by his counsels: that they may do whatsoever He commandeth them upon the face of the world in the earth. He causeth it to come, whether for correction, or for His land, or for mercy. Hearken unto this, O Job: stand still, and consider the wondrous works of God” (Job 37:10-14).
However, we can only imagine that Satan has desired to destroy God’s creation as we know it, since it was first created. Although all the forces of nature are under the complete authority of God, also according to the book of Job, Satan has the power to manipulate weather patterns for destruction. I believe Satan is always at the ready to wreak havoc upon the coastlines and plains, upon the mountains and valleys of the world, when granted the authority to do so by the Lord.
Satan desires destruction, but God desires deliverance. Satan enslaves, but God frees. It was the mercy of God that rebuked the storm raging on the sea:
“And they came to him, and awoke him, saying, Master, master, we perish. Then he arose, and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water: and they ceased, and there was a calm” (Luke 8:24).
Free Will of Mankind
However, the most dangerous and effective tool of all lies within Satan’s control: mankind. All human beings, regardless of race or gender, are open to the control of Satan unless possessed by the Spirit of God. Nothing causes more harm to human beings than other human beings.
God allows human beings to make their own choices. People suffer at the hands of others who choose hate and violence instead of love and mercy. As another RR writer recently and wisely answered in his own article, which was written before this article, that it was mankind’s choice to know good and evil, not God’s. The choice of death was made back in the Garden of Eden. (https://www.raptureready.com/soap/twobears111.html)
“And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, ‘Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die’” (Genesis 2:16-17).
Those who hate God will continue to do so regardless of the quality of logic and reason for the merit of truth that is presented to them, so that they can continue to blame God for the evil of Satan and mankind.
“But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are Spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14).
The verse above carries a mountain of weight according to the mighty impact of its truth. For believers, it’s as easy as a child’s understanding of the love of a mother’s smile. For unbelievers, it’s as impossible as a 90 year-old-man growing wings and flying to the moon.
The unsaved will never come to the knowledge of the truth of God’s grace unless they first come to repentance.
“In humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth” (2 Timothy 2:25).
God Will Defeat Satan
“And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night” (Revelation 12:10).
“And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever” (Revelation 20:10).
When tragedy strikes on earth, you can ease your pain and sorrow by placing your hope in heaven. Heavenly hope understands and accepts that whatever is happening, whatever the circumstance, it is not God’s final plan. While you are here on earth, God will help you through the sickness, the storm, or the struggle.
“For He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, ‘The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear’” (Hebrews 13:5b-6a).
God’s plans for us are heavenly and eternal. Although we cannot possibly conceive of all the joy His future plans hold for us, we can start with the assurance that “there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4b).
Job’s Prosperity Restored
The Lord lovingly restored Job to double the prosperity he had before.
“And the Lord returned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends: also the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before” (Job 42:10).
We too, as children of God will inherit future glory.
“The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:16-18).