This question, in a variety of forms, has perplexed human beings for centuries. Many people have expressed it this way; “If God is so good, why is there so much evil and suffering in the world?” or “If God is so powerful, why doesn’t He simply put an end to all the wickedness and pain in the world?” To be sure, our efforts to understand this issue fall short of a complete answer, and to a certain extent it will remain a mystery to us this side of heaven.
We do know, however, that God is the Author of life, not death. He created Lucifer. Lucifer became Satan by his own rebellion (see Isaiah 14; Ezekiel 28). He then instigated the rebellion of one-third of the angels who became demons (see Revelation 12). God created Adam who rebelled by sinning and led a parade of fallen humanity. Sin in the world is the result of God’s creation rebelling against Him. The Lord, however, remains both all powerful and completely good (see Jude 25: Exodus 34:6). Therefore, at any time, He could choose to say, “Enough is enough” and put a stop to all the activities of Satan as well as to all the activities of us sinful people — and one day He will. Until that Second Coming of Christ, however, we face the harsh reality that incredible evil and suffering abound in our world.
Does God see? Does God care? We answer both troubling questions with a resounding, “Yes!” The Lord Jesus, when He walked on the earth, wept at the grave of His dear friend Lazarus (see John 11:35). At another time, “Seeing the multitudes, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and downcast like sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew (:36). These are certainly not the emotions and reactions of a distant or aloof God!
“Why then,” you may ask, “doesn’t this omnipotent God respond with compassion for all who suffer today?” The answer to that question is “He already has!” The Lord Jesus Christ did not choose to remain on His lofty throne in heaven, far above the pain and misery that Satan causes in this world. Instead, He came to earth clothed in human flesh. He took everything Satan could throw at Him and never gave up or gave in. Jesus even died an excruciating death on the cross to pay for our evil, so that one day we will spend eternity in paradise with Him (see Philippians 2:5-11)! Jesus defeated Satan at the cross and sealed his doom forever. Judgment has already been passed on to the devil; one day he will begin to serve his eternal sentence.
“But it seems to be taking so long for Jesus to come back,” you say. Perhaps to us it seems like God is taking His good old time, but God is right on schedule. Listen to the words of the apostle Peter: “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise [to come again], as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9, NIV).
God is waiting for people like you and me to turn from our sin and put our faith in Christ. It is out of His kindness that He waits to put an end to the devil’s power on earth. For when God puts His foot down and says, “Enough!” to Satan, He will do the same with sinful men and women, and that will be the end of history as we know it. Christ will return, judgment will come, and those who have not believed in Him will be doomed with the devil to the lake of fire (see Revelation 20:10-15).
In the meantime, God has given us the tremendous privilege and responsibility of proclaiming the good news of salvation to the people around us who have yet to respond. We can do a lot to lessen the power of Satan in people’s lives by winning them to Christ and helping them become strong in their identity as a child of God. The Holy Spirit gives us the power to make disciples for Christ as we depend on Him.
So, we can sit around cursing the darkness, or we can light a candle. But rather than spending our time bemoaning the fact that Satan seems to have so much power, let us be about our Father’s business of building His Church. The gates of hell will not prevail against us (see Matthew 16:18)! And someday every tear will be wiped away, and the universe will be eradicated of evil (see Revelation 21:4).