This morning my Pastor mentioned the fact that sometimes when people can’t explain why something bad happens in life, they just throw out the phrase “Well, you know, God works in mysterious ways.” People have mistakenly used this phrase trying to explain away why disasters, death, disease, injustice or some other type of calamity happens.
Later this evening at our Life Group Meeting (small groups that meet in homes), we talked about the fact that we are all in a spiritual war. The Bible clearly teaches that the enemies of God, known in the Bible as evil spirits or demons-led by Satan, seek to draw us further away from God and his purposes for our lives.
Missiologist Ralph Winter sums up the problems that happen when we have a wrong view of why evil happens in the world. He writes,
“Probably the most vexing and ineffective Christian teaching is what we come up with in the face of tragic and evil events. Why does God allow such things? One young person after his freshman year at college said to his Dad “There is so much evil, suffering, and injustice in the world that either there is no God at all or there is a God of questionable power or character.” This idea is all the more devastating when Evangelicals, having essentially given up believing in an intelligent Enemy of God, take to explaining tediously that all this evil must be because God’s ways are simply mysterious. Satan, rampant and powerful in the New Testament, has mainly disappeared from significance following Augustine’s injection of some neo-platonic thought into the Christian tradition.”
In light of all of these thoughts, I came up with a few practical ways we can help people who struggle with the problem of evil in the world:
1. Stop telling suffering people that God works in “mysterious ways” as if He’s responsible for the evil that is taking place in the world today. God’s will, known to us through Jesus Christ, has nothing to do with destroying our lives through sickness, calamity, and disaster. This is the work of Satan: to steal, kill, and destroy. Jesus came to give us life and that in abundance.
2. Teach the truth from the Scriptures that we are in a real war with a real spiritual enemy that hates God and hates us. God has given us authority over His enemy because Jesus defeated Him and rendered him powerless. It’s up to us to be reconciled to God and to exercise that authority for ourselves and the people that want and need our help.
3. Our calling in this life is to join forces with God to “destroy the works of the devil” (I John 3:8) by using whatever spiritual gifts, talents, influence, and vocation he has given us. “Decide to measure your vocation, not by its payscale but by its contribution to this war.”-Winter.
Are we a part of the problem or the solution? There is no gray area.