Point three in Dr. Ruth Tucker’s categories related to walking away from faith is “disappointment with God regarding personal and widespread suffering.” This is not surprising as the problem of suffering and evil has challenged our view of God and His revelation for a long time. The prevalence of evil in our world from “why do bad things happen to good people” to the devastation wrought by natural disaster is an oft-mentioned stumbling block to belief.
At the risk of sounding trite or thinking that I have a novel, five-second answer to this age-old question, I do believe the biblical answer to this dilemma is straightforward. Let’s start with what the answer is not.
Evil is not part of God’s plan for us personally or for the world in general. In our dogmatism regarding the sovereign plan of God, we have either inadvertently or deliberately, painted God as the author of evil. With this foundational error, it comes as no surprise that we blame God for evil and suffering on both a personal and worldwide scale. Young, inquiring minds soon see a contradiction between our teaching on God’s love and goodness, and the evil He supposedly prescribes which, to them, becomes untenable and they abandon the faith. Let me say again, God is not the author of evil.
I believe the Bible teaches that God has a dark, intelligent, evil, supernatural enemy. He is not God’s equal by any means, but he is an opposing power to the goodness of God, God’s activity, and God’s creation. In short, the author of evil and suffering in this world at both a personal and worldwide scale is Satan himself, and the best thing we can do for our young people and ourselves in this area is to have a proper understanding of demonology. Haven’t heard the term demonology before? I am not surprised. As pastor Gordon Kirk of Pasadena California has observed, “Satan’s greatest achievement has been to cover his tracks.”
I couldn’t agree more. As modern man has relegated Satan to the world of fairies and elves, we have become clueless to his devastating activity. But Jesus and the New Testament writers, over and over again, acknowledge Satan’s existence, his presence, and his influence in the world. We will look at their warnings in coming posts.