Lots of Christians look for Satan behind every bush. Wake up in a sour mood? Must be Satan. Argue with a family member? The Devil strikes again. Bad weather wreaks havoc on the commute? Who else could be working in that? No one but Satan!
Those who see Satan in all of life's negatives often point to Job 2 as evidence: the Lord used Satan to test Job; therefore, all the negatives that happen in our lives are also the work of Satan. However, that conclusion doesn't follow the evidence. Satan certainly did afflict Job, but there's nothing in the Bible to suggest that all our suffering is a result of similar testing. Satan brought about Job's suffering, but that doesn't mean that we should see the Devil behind every negative in our own lives. There are at least four causes of our suffering.
- Satan: Job 1–2 is the classic passage explicating Satan's role in human suffering, as he pled with God for the opportunity bring pain to Job. But Satan's rare appearances in Scripture give way to other, more significant causes of human suffering . . .
- Personal Sin: Much of what befalls us we bring upon ourselves through our own sin or weakness. King Saul lived much of his reign in anguish after his disobedience left him outside of God's plans for the future (1 Samuel 15:24–28).
- The Sins of Others: We often suffer the consequences of someone else's sin. Daniel was exiled to Babylon not because of something he did, but because the sins of his forefathers led God to decide that exile was in order.
- A Broken World: Finally, many things happen in this world as a result of the brokenness that comes with the presence of sin. All is not as it should be. Hurricanes wreak destruction. Fires decimate homes. Sin has broken our world.
So where does your suffering come from? The Bible offers no evidence that Job ever knew about Satan's role in his ill health or the death of his children, servants, and livestock. Suggesting as much in our own lives is probably taking it a step too far. Rather, our suffering should prompt us to correct wickedness in our own lives, forgive those who have sinned against us, and reach out to God for comfort and guidance as we seek to persevere in the righteousness to which He has called us.
Charles R. Swindoll has devoted his life to the accurate, practical teaching and application of God’s Word. Since 1998, he has served as the senior pastor-teacher of Stonebriar Community Church in Frisco, Texas, but Chuck’s listening audience extends beyond a local church body. As a leading program in Christian broadcasting since 1979, Insight for Living airs around the world. Chuck’s leadership as president and now chancellor of Dallas Theological Seminary has helped prepare and equip a new generation for ministry.
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