Yesterday (Tuesday, March 22), two explosions at the Brussels airport and the Maelbeek subway station in central Brussels took the lives of nearly three dozen people and wounded more than 230! Just a few months ago, on December 2, 2015, a couple crashed a holiday party in San Bernardino, California and opened fire on the group, killing 14 people and wounding 22. Less than one month before that, on November 13, 2015, a number of coordinated attacks that included shootings and suicide bombings at locations in Paris, France, caused the deaths of 130 people and wounded 368.
It is an unfortunate fact, but these kinds of news are not that surprising to us anymore unless they take place in our immediate surroundings or involve people that we know. Terms like terrorist attacks, suicide bombings and familicide have become routine in our conversations. The question is, Why? Why are evil men and women permitted to run amok in the world taking lives on a whim? And if there is a loving God, how can He just sit on His hands while those things continue to happen?
NOT God’s Fault!
Let’s get something clear. If we follow the teardrops and bloodstains of earth’s generations of heartaches, they will not lead us to a passive God who simply sits idly by while evil thrive, neither would investigations of the chaos on our planet reveal an angry God out for revenge.
It is true that God is all powerful and fully capable of preventing evil altogether, but He is not responsible for it. The death and destruction in Brussels, San Bernardino and Paris are not the acts of a vengeful God. To properly answer the “why” question, we must first explore the reason why bad things happen in the first place.
There’s a Devil Out There…
We live in a world that is partially under the control of an enemy who means business. Armed with more than six thousand years of experience, and knowing human nature better than all of the world’s psychologists and psychiatrists and scientists throughout history combined, this sadistic creature works around the clock with his army of malevolent comrades to plot destruction.
He dedicates every hour of every day and night to hone his skills and develop his craft. He is clever, meticulous, accurate, detailed-oriented, patient and sophisticated. His weapons are efficient, tailor-made for each and every one of us with our tastes, preferences, strengths and weaknesses in mind. He works out all of the details, executes his plans in perfect succession to ensure decisive, final results, and does not care how long it takes provided that in the end he leaves us crippled, damaged for life.
The Bible calls him a roaring lion. “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8, NKJV). Picture a sniper with a loaded rifle, seeking random targets, and you get a pretty good idea of what Satan is doing. He literally hates your guts! The devil hates you with every last thread of his being. He abhors you with a passion that simply cannot be put into words. His greatest desire is to see you suffer. I imagine him partying every time somebody contracts cancer, every time somebody has a stroke or heart attack and dies, every time somebody loses a child!
God, on the other hand, does not want anyone to suffer. But He allows suffering so that we, as well as heavenly creatures, can fully grasp the degree to which Satan has damaged His creation. He does this so that He can ensure evil never reoccurs when He finally puts an end to it. The reality is that, the suffering we see today would have been exponentially worst had God not kept evil in check. Malnutrition, war, natural disasters, disease of all kinds—these would have been only the tip of the iceberg if God did not have “angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth” (Revelation 7:1), preventing Satan from unleashing the full measure of his fury against us. The reason why we experience this measure of evil today is because angels of God restrict Satan from exercising his will to his full potential. Should God allow Satan to do to us everything he has in mind, planet earth would have literally become a living hell!
Here is the good news: God will have the last laugh!
The Death of Satan!
God has allowed Satan to continue his work of destruction for millennia, but He will someday slam His foot down and declare, “Enough!” God will eventually bring Satan’s evil streak to a screeching end. According to Revelation 20, one day God will take the devil along with all of the heartaches he has caused and thrust them “into the lake of fire and brimstone” (Revelation 20:10). And when He is through destroying Satan, God will then restore creation to its pre-sin glory. So even though today we are heartbroken by the havoc we witness in the world, let’s not lose heart. Let’s take comfort knowing that someday, the originator and author of evil will be destroyed, and God will run the world the way that He originally intended.