During your life God will let you experience things so that you can learn a lesson. Like the loving Father He is, He has to let us struggle through things so we can gain wisdom and understanding that we otherwise would not have. Sometimes it is the life experiences that teach us the most, when we would not have listened to His instruction for our lives. Other times we want something so bad, that we just have to have it to see it was not what we thought it would be. Indeed, it was not actually even good for us.
I have heard the question asked so many times “Why does God let bad things happen to good people?”. I have asked the same question myself many times as I walked a life far from Jesus’ redemption. It made no sense to me then, so I can see why such a question could plague a soul. The world is so full of devastation and despair, violence and death. Why would God let bad things happen to seemingly good people? I had no idea what a fully loaded question that really is.
You see while I denied and rejected Jesus and any value He had on my life, I thought the world was made up of two kinds of people. Those that were good and wanted to do good, and those that were bad and wanted to do bad. Good vs. evil. And why not? You see the dynamic of good vs. evil all over TV and movies, and it has been portrayed that way as far back as I can remember. It is the eternal battle that plays out, yet good always wins. The funny thing is, for a while there, I really wanted evil to win. I got bored with always see the good guys win. I wanted to know what it would be like for the bad guys to win. After all, how bad were the bad guys really? Maybe they had a messed up childhood and needed help. I mean, doesn’t everyone deserve a second chance? Or to be loved?
He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Luke 10:18
This is all a complete ruse. There is no eternal struggle between good and evil, and there never has been. It might be fun to think there is, because we all love a good drama, but it is a complete and utter lie. God is in full control over everything. He created the heavens and the earth and everything in between. Including evil, aka Satan, The Great Deceiver. God is in control over evil, and as a matter of fact, Satan needs God’s permission to do his evil work! Of course Satan does not want us to know that. He wants us to believe he is all-powerful, like God, and that he has just as good of a chance at winning the fight as God does. But he has no chance of winning anything, except a one way ticket to the fiery pit of hell.
The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.” Then Satan went out from the presence of the Lord. Job 1:12
Many years ago there was a great book written about just such a story. It is still on the best seller list as a matter of fact and the end is really the best part. This book is called the Bible, and in the last chapter, Satan gets sent away from earth forever, by the King of Kings. Jesus. Does that mean we are waiting for Satan to be defeated? No. Jesus has already defeated Satan, death and hell, forever, by dying on the cross and giving each and every one of us a free ticket into heaven. All you have to do is believe Jesus is the Son of God who died to save you from you sins, and ask for forgiveness. Satan has no power over God, and he never has. He just wants us to believe he does so that he can continue to spin lies into your head and hold you captive to them.
he will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove his people’s disgrace from all the earth. The LORD has spoken. Isaiah 25:8
So wait a minute here…you mean to tell me God is in control of everything – and gives Satan permission to do evil?? Well the simple answer is, yes. God knows that Satan is doing his evil deeds all over, but it is not just Satan out there doing evil. It is also man. Man is not born mostly good. Man does not depend on the good deeds he does to determine whether he is a good person or not. Because man is not good. Not even a little bit. We are born with sin in our hearts, and with a free will. Therefore we are quite capable of doing evil just as easily as Satan himself. When we have a heart turned away from God and towards ourselves, it is quite easy for Satan to let us go about being destructive and cruel without any of his help at all.
But the thing is, God knew exactly what He was doing when He sent Satan down to the earth to be with His children. God has already won the fight, and as it is written “on earth as it is in heaven“, that is what God is calling us to do. Kick Satan’s butt. Seriously. We do not need to fear Satan or death or evil. Jesus has already overcome it. So God allows him to do things because it gives us a chance to practice living a life the way we were meant to! Jesus came to free the captives from sin and sickness and fear. It was His example of how we are to live here – on earth as it is in heaven.
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Luke 4:18-19
Which brings us back to those life lessons God lets us experience sometimes. God will never tempt us, but instead He will always give us a way out of our temptations. That doesn’t mean that we will take the way out He gives us. With our free will comes the choice to take the path that God gives us, or to try things out on our own. Much like a toddler who has been told not to touch the hot bbq, we decide that the temptation is just too great and we end up getting burned. A parent cannot shelter their children from every decision that may be bad, nor can they control a child who is willfully rebellious.
I have spent a good portion of my life rebelling against God and His ways, but I truly believed in my heart I was a good person. Yet I continued to lie, cheat, steal and hurt those I loved. Did I do it maliciously? Not likely. Yet a heart turned inwards is a heart bent toward sin. There is nothing to be done about it, but to take the free gift of salvation Jesus offers to us. With that we must turn our heart towards God, and towards everything that He loves.
And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. Ezekial 36:26