Living By Faith Blog

Icon

Biblical, battle-tested, real-life help for "living by faith in the Son of God" (Galatians 2:20). — Steve Fuller

Is This Trial From Satan Or God?

Job 2Another Trial

This morning I am facing a trial.  It would not be appropriate for me to give the details.  But I’m feeling worry and stress.

In the past I have thought about writing on whether trials are from Satan or from God.  And what could be a better time for this than when I’m in the midst of a trial?

So here goes —

From Satan Or God?

Is this trial an attack from Satan?  Or has it been purposefully allowed by God?  The reason we ask is because if it’s from Satan, we will seek to resist it, pray against it, and try to overcome it.

But if it’s from God, we will seek to accept it, surrender to His will, and rejoice through it.

So which is it?

Some Trials Are Clearly From Satan

We can see that from many Scriptures —

  • Luke describes a woman whose spine had been bent over for 18 years by an evil spirit (Luke 13:11).
  • Paul says the Evil One fires flaming darts at us (Eph 6:16).
  • Paul says Satan hindered him from visiting the Thessalonians (1Th 2:18).
  • Paul said his thorn in the flesh was a messenger from Satan to harass him (2Cor 12:7).

So some trials are clearly from Satan.  But the Bible also says —

Some Trials Are Clearly From God

There are many examples —

  • Peter says if we suffer for doing good it’s because God willed it (1Pe 3:17).
  • The psalmist says God “afflicts us in faithfulness” (Psa 119:75).
  • Moses says it’s ultimately God who allows people’s sicknesses (Exo 4:11).
  • Amos says that if disaster comes to a city the Lord has done it (Amos 3:6).

So some trials are clearly from Satan, and some clearly from God.  But then we have to ask —

Which Are From Satan, And Which Are From God?

The Bible shows us something puzzling: the same trial can be both from Satan and from God.

Take Job’s trials.  His oxen, donkeys, sheep, and camels were stolen or killed; his servants were killed; his children were killed; his health was destroyed.

So where did these trials come from?

They were clearly from Satan, since they came to Job from Satan’s hand (Job 1:12; Job 2:6).

But they were also from God, because Satan had to get permission from God to do them (Job 1:12; Job 2:6).

So even though Satan brought the trials, Job said “the Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21) and “Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” (Job 2:10).

So if someone asked Job — Are your trials from Satan or God? — he would have answered — Both.  They were from both Satan and God.

And that’s what we see is true of every trial.

Every Trial Is From Satan

Look at the following Scriptures —

  • Paul says the Christian life means wrestling against spiritual forces of evil (Eph 6:12).  Which means in some way our wrestling is always against Satan.
  • Peter says that when we suffer we need to resist Satan who is seeking to devour us like a lion (1Pet 5:8-9).  So in some way all our suffering involves Satan.
  • James says that when we are tempted by friendship with the world and pride we must resist the devil (Jam 4:4-7).  Which makes it sound like all temptation involves Satan.

But the Bible also teaches that —

Every Trial Is From God

This truth is harder to understand.  And it’s especially difficult if you are right in the middle of a heart-breaking trial.  But it is taught throughout God’s Word, and when rightly understood it brings deep comfort.

  • In Isa 45:7 God says He brings us both well-being and calamity; which means everything in our lives ultimately comes from Him either directly or by permission.
  • Paul says every affliction we will ever face has been destined for us by God (1Thess 3:2-3).
  • Paul says God will only allow us to be tempted in ways we can handle, which shows that every temptation is allowed by God (1Cor 10:13).

So every trial is from both Satan and God.  But not in the same way.  There are —

Crucial Differences

One difference involves sovereignty.  Every trial is brought to us by Satan.  But Satan can only do this by God’s permission.   Which means every trial is ultimately under God’s wise, loving, and sovereign control.

The other difference involves purpose.  Satan’s purpose for every trial is to weaken our faith and take us farther from God.  But God’s purpose for every trial is to strengthen our faith and draw us nearer to Him.

What This Means For Us

This morning I’m facing a trial that’s small.  But some of you are facing trials that are huge — the loss of a loved one, years of unemployment, chronic pain, or worse.  So how should we respond to trials?

  • Don’t wonder if they are from Satan or God.  They are from Satan’s hand by God’s wise, loving, and sovereign permission.
  • Understand that Satan’s purpose for this trial is to weaken your faith and take you farther from God.
  • Resist Satan’s purpose by coming to Christ as you are, trusting Him to be all you need.  Ask Him to strengthen and comfort you through His Word.  Pray over His promises until you feel the Holy Spirit changing your heart.
  • Understand that God’s purpose for this trial is to strengthen your faith and draw you nearer to God.  Sometimes He does this by delivering you from the trial, since this can show you more of who He is.  So humbly and earnestly ask for this.
  • Realize that sometimes God chooses to have the trial stay, as a way of giving you even more of Himself.  So pray over God’s promises until the Holy Spirit strengthens your faith and you experience Christ as your all-satisfying Treasure.

A Final Word of Comfort

Here’s what Peter says to his readers who are suffering —

And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.  (1Peter 5:10)

Comments?  Feedback?

I’d love to hear them.  Leave a reply below — thanks.

If you know someone who would be helped by reading this, email it to them using the “share” button below.  Or use the other buttons to share it on your favorite social media.

If you would like to interact with others who are seeking to live by faith in Christ, visit our Forums page.

If you would like to receive a Saturday email summarizing the week’s posts — subscribe here.  (I will only use your email address for Living By Faith Blog communications, and you can easily unsubscribe at any time.)

And here are some related posts you might find helpful –

 

(Picture is by Gustav Dore and in the public domain.)

Category: Problems or Trials

Tagged:

13 Responses

  1. Lorraine Kashdan says:

    Good one thanks.

  2. Erin Lee says:

    This is the second time I’ve heard about God giving us trials today…my favorite idea from the sermon I heard on suffering this morning was, Jesus’ suffering was necessary to create the Gospel, our suffering is necessary for the world to see the Gospel.

    Stay strong in your trial, Steve! I know your compassionate heart comes in part from God’s faithfulness during your trials.

    • Steve Fuller says:

      I love how God orchestrates it when He wants to teach us something. And I’m so glad this post was part of His orchestra for you, Erin.

      And thank you very much for your encouragement — deeply appreciated!

      Steve

  3. Alicia says:

    This really answered a lot of the questions that I’ve been having lately as I’m going through a trial.

    Thank you for shining God’s light to me. I am only 5 months into my walk with God, and He has done some tremendous work in me, but at times I am still inexperienced as a Christian.

    Glory be to God for the trials that we have. If in the end we endure the suffering, He will make beauty from the ashes. Blessed be the name of The Lord!

  4. Mark Santos says:

    This has given me an insight on trials overall, thank you for this.

    I will perceive differently when coming to face the future trials that lie ahead for me, and I will look upon the Lord, my God, for hope, strength, wisdom, grace, and mercy – as well as to pray for others who seek help too.

    Let He who made all things good, be with you forever and ever! God bless.

  5. Tony Najera says:

    I’m facing a very difficult trial from Satan right now. It’s been happening for two months already. I used to be a big sinner but ever since I’ve gotten closer to God, he’s been trying to take me apart from God with hideous thoughts of him. I think that satan got mad because I didn’t want to sin no more and get closer to God, that’s why he’s trying to take me away from God. I used to get so upset with these thoughts that I would get depression. Now I just get upset but not to a point where I get depressed because I prayed to Jesus and he took the depression away from me but not the trial. For me this meant that he gave me strength by taking away the depression so I could go I on with my trial. I try my best to resist the devil but sometimes it’s to powerful. God says to submit to him and resist the devil and he will flee, I’ve tried my best but there’s something im doing wrong because he won’t flee. There are sometimes where I feel like he’s fleed because I haven’t had bad thoughts and I’m happy but once I get happy and I’m having a great time, I feel that satan tries to take my happiness away and bring up the bad thoughts again. I need help to face this trial. What should I do? Please help. God bless you.

    • Cheyenne Williams says:

      Tony Najera,
      I hope you are well. I know Im a bit late in this reply but I hope by now you were able to overcome and give glory to God for overcoming this trial. If not dont feel bad. Satan has a had many more years in the art of deception then anyone. But know this, God wouldn’t have allowed him to test you if he didn’t think you were capable. Here is some text that could help you out.

      Ephesians 6:10-13
      Romans 13:12

      God Bless you!

  6. Been studying recently on trials, and this post was a great help with my understanding. It blessed me.
    Thank you. 🙂

  7. Vale says:

    Thank you. This came at the right time as all things my God does. May your faith not fail you during your own trials. God bless you.

  8. Anonymous says:

    But how can we explain the word of God in James 1:13-15?

  9. Anonymous says:

    Hi!

    I have been facing the same trial for the last 3 years and it has completely worn me out spiritually, physically, mentally, and emotionally. For the last 3 years I have had no true joy or peace and have been searching the internet for answers on trials, God’s sovereignty, and free will. After reading this post, things started to click and I felt peace. I have been so far from God for so long it will take time for me to adjust my thinking to align with the word of God, but I just wanted to say thank your obedience to God and thank you for writing this in the midst of your trial. I actually printed this out to have in my journal to read over everyday until I my mind is transformed and I am renewed and restored from the inside out! Thank you again for putting these last few trying years in perspective.

    Blessings to you!

Leave a Reply

Join 2,375 people who receive each week’s posts by email

More Help for Your Faith

  • RSS Feed
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • YouTube

Feedback

"I just found your blog recently, and I've NEVER found such clarity, understanding and comfort before." (Sarah)

"AWESOME. Going to mangle this sin tonight with the Promises of God." (Alec)

"If I could subscribe to only one blog, yours would be it." (Lyn)

"I think you are really on to something with this blog. I don’t know of anything else like it." (Doug)

"Excellent comment. Really well put and wisdom that is strangely lacking in much evangelical thinking." (John)

"Thank you -- I needed to hear this. So clear and concise yet captivating." (Stacey)

"Such a helpful post. I’ve bookmarked it and reread it two or three mornings just this week." (Doug)