A few thoughts on the questions raised regarding misfortune and trouble that befalls us and others. These are questions that thinking people have raised since Day 1 and the real answers only come by painful experience (we are all at different stages), and oral “answers” are not too satisfying.
1. First of all, in our cries and protests against what befalls us (especially versus others, who fare “better”) we all save ourselves a lot of grief by just ignoring the “other guy”. That’s hard for us competitive Americans and Dutch-descended. JFK said “life isn’t fair”, by which he meant “equal”, but it can’t be and shouldn’t be. Just figure that it averages out. So don’t get hung up either regarding somebody else’s “misfortunes”, like a person’s mistreatment at God’s/Satan’s hands. Most of our protests against injustice are on some one else’s behalf. Except insofar as we can help, that’s between them and God.
2. We have picked up a lot of mixed notions on these subjects, from what we were taught in Catechism, preached in college, etc. May I state simplistically some of these misconceptions? a. When the Bible says that God made the world for His own glory, it means to express, exhibit, like one sitting down to play the piano even if nobody is listening. Not to get praise or glory. b. The Old Testament is not a record of some “nice” people whom we are to imitate in their virtues (and beware of whose faults), but a bunch of half-civilized sinners who it took God thousands of years to show that they could never “hack it”, on earth or hereafter, by themselves. When they finally gave up self-effort, then Christ came to do it for them and in them. c. Salvation is not mere forgiveness. Then God was stupid for letting a “man” sin in order just to forgive him, like a skilled surgeon who hacks off his son’s hand so he can reattach it as good as new. God allowed the fall so that out of it we could rise to greater heights than “perfect” Adam, by means of the Second Adam, the Lord Jesus. d. While anybody, before becoming a Christian, is indeed “dead” in sin and misery (a walking spiritually corpse), many of God’s children are born again, saved, new people from the time of their conception. Raised in a Christian home (and environment) they are NOT full of sin and misery, but already little “saints”. They do have to learn with age, that apart from salvation they were sinners, etc., but they do not have to say, “That’s what I am right now,” before they can become converted. “Self” is the big thing we all have to defeat. As an admission, as a kid I was a nice boy, always wanting to be a preacher, etc. But the trouble was that I thought I was all that by “Boy Scout” self-effort. That feeling, that ego, that “self” had to die, and brother, it ain’t easy. And just when you think you got it dead and buried, it rears out of the grave and you have to slap the shovel into its face again. (Usually somebody else will do it for you, which is why the Bible describes this death to self as “crucifixion”; nobody can crucify himself.) d. All this, mind you, is not so that God gets his due credit; he couldn’t care less. But what He wants to grow into us is himself, and as long as we are full of ourselves or even 10%, there’s that less room for Him.
3. As to this whole business of who is responsible for trouble – God or Satan, God is, ultimately, on the score that if He didn’t allow Adam to fall (or Satan before that), we would be in Paradise yet. (Which, as I intimated above, was far from perfect, fun, a bowl of cherries. What kind of life do South Sea Islanders have, without need of work, clothes, houses, etc? Only by “fighting” the elements and “fighting” to earn a living does civilization develop, inventions get discovered, and man himself grow and develop.) God was so self-giving and loving that he wanted to make creatures as much like himself as possible, and that required giving him free will, self-rule, choice. If God had “made” Adam choose right, would be no sin, of course, but no human either; just an animal, who does what is “right” out of instinct; it can’t help itself.