TWO SIDES OF THE SAME COIN
(Job 2:7) So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD, and struck Job with painful boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head.
Lately I've been asked a certain question by unrelated people. And when they ask it they are dead serious as well as perplexed in their inquiry. The question posed is this, "When something bad happens to me is it the Lord allowing it, or is it Satan just attacking me?" This question is usually born out of a fresh painful experience they went through. At this point believers are grappling for answers to help them in their puzzled minds. You can't blame them because it's a question that we all ask when the going gets rougher than usual. So what do you say to someone when they ask is it the devil or the Lord?
Job had it bad. He went from being so blessed to being entirely stressed. In rapid succession he lost his livelihood, his children and his health. He ends up on an ash heap scraping his sores while his wife's words are ringing in his ears . . . "Curse God and die!" Behind the scenes Satan appears before God with the angels and the subject of Job's righteous character comes up. Satan challenged God that he could get Job to curse God to His face if he could afflict him good. With God's permission the challenge was on. Satan put Job through the wash machine. Though tried and strained, Job held onto his faith, was doubly blessed in the end, and Satan lost the game.
Do you begin to get the picture? Our problem as Christians is we usually think in terms of "either/or." It has to be one way or the other. When afflictions occur it has to be Satan or the Lord because their purposes are in direct contrast to each other as well as (we surmise) evil and good can never cooperate. Our finite minds like to put things into tidy categories and in our pain we cannot reconcile evil with the loving hand of God. When things are going good we tend to "feel" God. When things go wrong we sense our adversary the devil riding shotgun with us.
Might it be easier if we just thought of two sides of the same coin? This does not compromise the truth but brings two separate realities back to back to each other in one unit. It would be absurd to say a coin is not a coin because it has heads and tails. But does a coin work? Sure it does. It buys things as well as decides things. It can buy you a football as well as decide who is going to kick off first. You never throw change away because it is two-in-one. Instead its value causes you to pick it up off a dirty street.
Satan's purposes are to destroy you. God's purposes are to bless you. Paul had this worked out in his mind when he suffered with his "thorn in the flesh." (2 Cor 12:7) And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. He asked the Lord for this "thorn" to be removed but the Lord denied his request. Instead Paul received a gift of sufficient grace in his weakness so the power of Christ could be evident in his life and ministry.
God's discipline is not punitive in nature. It is corrective. Though cloven hooves leave their prints all around you, be assured that God is working all things for good. And when He does, go back to that coin that landed devil side up and turn it over. You will find Romans 8:28 written all over it. Then the next time you are afflicted you'll be more likely to flip that coin over even sooner. Why? Because . . . we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.