“All right, you may test him,” the LORD said to Satan. “Do whatever you want with everything he possesses, but don’t harm him physically.” So Satan left the Lord’s presence. - Job 1:12
In a perfect world all would be sweetness and light—or so we fondly imagine. But our world is often ugly and dark. We dream and work to bring about our utopia, but it never comes. Bad things happen. And they happen continuously, relentlessly, and cruelly, to bad people and also to the good. Sometimes, it seems they happen more to the good than to the bad. Why?
Job’s world was sweetness and light. He had lots of money, a successful business, a great family, recognition, and a good reputation. And with all of this, Job was a righteous and deeply religious man—the best of the best. Then came calamity upon calamity, until he was left only with fresh graves, shattered barns, decimated herds, chronic illness, and a bitter wife. God’s best had been dealt life’s worst. But why?
A skeptic would quickly answer, “Bad things happen because there is no good God to keep them from happening.” The skeptic thinks he has an incontrovertible point. But surely, if it be argued that the presence of bad things points to God’s absence, it must be conceded that the presence of good things points to God’s presence. “Yes,” the skeptic might reply, “and what kind of God is he if he exists? If he is all good, why does he tolerate evil? If he is all-powerful, why doesn’t he stop it?”
The story of Job points in another direction. God, our creator, rules all things by his mighty power, and he is good. Satan, our accuser, is evil. For reasons that we don’t understand, God allows Satan to engage in evil functions, but only under tight divine control; yet God makes everything, even evil, serve his purpose, and he brings eternal good out of temporal evil.
It may be a hard truth to embrace, a bitter pill to swallow. But ultimately, God’s ways are beyond our comprehension. “There are secret things that belong to the Lord our God” (Deut. 29:29). At some point we have to humbly accept what God has told us and trust that he is doing what is right. Even though “clouds and darkness surround him,” we can trust that “righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne” (Ps. 97:2). And there is no getting away from the fact that good can come out of evil.
Look at the cross of Jesus Christ. It was temporal evil, but from it came eternal good. Satan did his worst. God did his best! What gross evil, but what glorious good! Best of all, God does not watch our pain dispassionately—in Christ he endured it himself.
For Further Study: Job 1:6-22
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