It often seems that people are caught in events beyond their control. People find themselves being manipulated by God or by Satan. They may feel forced into situations they would not choose if they were given a chance. While this seems unfair, there is another way. A higher way to interpret the circumstances that life brings our way. We can see them as God-given opportunities to cooperate with his purpose and plans and, by serving Him, to fulfill something far more significant than our own schemes ever could. We are more than pawns in a chess game. We can honor the Almighty God by the way we live our lives.
I would like to take a second and take a look at this bible passage from the book of Job:
13 One day when Job’s sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house, 14 a messenger came to Job and said, “The oxen were plowing and the donkeys were grazing nearby, 15 and the Sabeans attacked and made off with them. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”
16 While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, “The fire of God fell from the heavens and burned up the sheep and the servants, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”
17 While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, “The Chaldeans formed three raiding parties and swept down on your camels and made off with them. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”
18 While he was still speaking, yet another messenger came and said, “Your sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house, 19 when suddenly a mighty wind swept in from the desert and struck the four corners of the house. It collapsed on them and they are dead, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”
After reading this passage, there are many unanswered questions that remain. Only God knows why dozens of bystanders had to die in this unfolding drama between Satan and God. We struggle with the fact that some who are righteous have short, tragic lives while others who are wicked enjoy wealth and long life. On thing we can be sure of however: What seems unfair in this life will be made right in eternity. Our problems will be resolved and many of our questions answered.
God has permitted Satan certain freedoms. Satan is called the “prince of this world” in John 14:30 and “the ruler of the kingdom of the air” in Ephesians 2:2. Satan can sometimes use the forces of nature, sickness, plagues, and wicked people. Though God dealt a fatal blow to Satan through Jesus’ death and resurrection, Satan continues to struggle against God, and will do so until the ens as Romans 16:20 tells us.
There are two sides to the suffering of the righteous in this world. That is the earthly and the heavenly. The apostle Paul understood the tension of living in a corrupt world as one controlled by the Spirit. He placed his trust in God and eternal things (God’s justice, mercy, and love), not in the temporary things of this world (success, wealth, and fame). Paul recognized that our struggle is not against the “flesh and blood” of this world as described in Ephesians 6:12 and so he took courage in knowing that our “citizenship is in heaven” as described in Philippians 3:20.
If we really lived our lives each day with our eventual goal being heaven, it would really transform how we looked at the things of this world.