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If God is good...

The Bible tells us we live in a world that is not now precisely as God created it. Originally "God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good," as we see in Genesis 1:31. Then, after the first humans succumbed to the temptation of the evil one, "the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually" (Genesis 6:5). If we look around us at the chaos this present world is in, with its continual wars, famines, earthquakes, murders, muggings, rapes, and other mayhem, it should be clear to any objective observer that the second quotation above is true.

(The devil, Satan, was originally one of God's angels, but he thought he was worthy of worship and exaltation just as God was. Read Isaiah chapter 14 to learn more. Satan was banished from God's presence because of his rebellion.)

Certainly there is some good to be found, but where does most of it come from? Mostly from those people who are motivated by a love for God. Consider the late Mother Teresa: Her work among the poor and sick in India was the direct result of her understanding of what the Savior, Jesus Christ, had done for her in His sacrificial death on the cross. In coming to love Jesus, she loved those around her who needed to know Him too.

We must be sure we understand a couple of important points. One, God does have a remedy for the rampant evil we find around us. He makes that very clear in the last book of the Bible, the book called Revelation. Second, trials, tribulation, and suffering are part of His plan for Christians. The Bible is very clear: God despises suffering, never sins, and never tempts anyone to sin. God also very clearly claims to run the world, all the time. Even when we sin, and even when we suffer. God's plans are therefore being accomplished not only despite our tragedies, but also through them.

The greatest suffering you will read about in the Bible is the suffering Jesus went through prior to and during crucifixion. But He did it willingly so you and I would not perish, but rather have eternal life. Jesus said, in fact, "Thus it is written [referring to prophecy], and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day." He finishes with "and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem" (Luke 24:46-47). Jesus knew from boyhood precisely who He was and what He was here to do. He never hesitated on that long dark road to Calvary, even though He lived His entire life here on earth with the spectre of the cross always before Him.

We gain two critical insights for our lives from the book of Romans, chapter eight. These are found in verses 18 and 28. Romans 8:18 says "I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us." (To learn about that revealing, go to all that's revealed in Revelation.) And Romans 8:28 should become emblazoned on our hearts forever: "We know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose." No matter what you go through in this life, you can trust God and His love for you. His best for you lies at the end of every long road, every dark tunnel, every deep valley.

But you can't trust Him until you know Him. To know Him, go back to "How To" or "How To No. 2."

Throughout the Old Testament Satan has access to God's presence, but that access is lost. (See John 12:31; also Isaiah ch. 14.) The death and resurrection of Jesus is the devil's death sentence. When the evil one is banished from God's presence, he focuses his fury on our world. Jim Petersen, a well-known and widely read Christian author, says "The evil of our day is of such incredible proportions it has got to be inspired."