It often seems that people are caught in events beyond their control, manipulated by God or 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 of life. 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 Almighty God by the way we live and die.
Still, many unanswered questions 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. One thing we can affirm, 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. He is called the “prince of this world” (Jn 14:30) and “the ruler of the kingdom of the air” (Eph 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 end (see Ro 16:20).
There are two sides to the suffering of the righteous: 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 things eternal—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 “flesh and blood” (Eph 6:12) and took courage in knowing that our “citizenship is in heaven” (Php 3:20).