Satan wants nothing more than to enter certain areas of your life so he can gain a stronghold. He’ll try anything to throw you off center, distract you from your focus, and render you ineffective for the Kingdom of God. But Father God loves you so much that he is not willing to promote you before you are ready. Satan could have used God’s gift and blessing against you.
He will try to lure you with a false god like your career, a spouse or love interest, a dream or goal, a hobby or lifestyle. I know many people whose first love is their bodies, so they spend more time in the gym working out than letting God work within. It’s a subtle way of starting to love other things more than God. Some of us love food, money, recreation, our children, a substance, or a “feeling” (like being in love, or feeling energetic) more than God, Himself. Satan wants to keep Christ off the throne of your life so he tries try to sneak anything else in there.
What we really love and trust aren’t truly seen until we are tested by loss.
This is essentially the point that Satan made when talking to God about Job. In that odd scene in the first chapter of Job, when Satan presented himself before God, God said to him, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?” (Job 1:8).
Satan’s response was, “Does Job fear God for no reason? Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.” (Job 1:9–11)
Yeah God, of course Job “fears” you when his life is full of blessings. But take away the blessings and his trust will turn to cursing.
Note the irony here. In this manipulative moment, Satan inadvertently pointed out the core error of prosperity theology: prosperity obscures, rather than reveals, how much fallen humans love God. “Blessings” easily turn into curses as sinners subtly (or not so subtly) come to love and trust the blessings more than the One who provided the blessings.
Satan knew this by experience. He was so confident that Job would curse God if the blessings were removed because he had seen it occur thousands and thousands of times in others.
Satan knew that the “taking away” more than the “giving” would reveal the truth — what Job really trusted and loved. So did God. So, God gave Satan permission to take away Job’s children, wealth, health, and reputation — all that most men place their hope in during life.
And the result?
Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” (Job 1:20–21)
Satan was proven wrong about Job.
I love Chris Quilala’s story. In the video below, Pastor Bill Johnson gave a snippet why the song “Miracles” was written.
You “only know you love her when you let her go.” Having concealed love, loss revealed love.
Satan gets no pleasure out of humans enjoying real pleasure. He would prefer to kill, maim, steal, destroy, and deprive, if doing so doesn’t push someone toward faith in God (John 10:10).
God always has our ultimate good in mind, which means he will pry the idols from our hands. He does this not because he is cruel or depriving us. He knows better than we do, and his “no” is always merciful, even when it hurts. He is for us, fighting against what will keep us from him (Romans 8:31). He knows our hearts can only be truly satisfied with himself (John 4:14). He will not tolerate being second in our lives, because he wants us to have something so much better than what the world can offer.
Yes, our testing is more than just for us. We must remember that, like Job’s experience, there is often more going on in our experience than meets our eyes. Job didn’t know when the calamities hit that God was putting Satan to shame.
Peter and the disciples wouldn’t have known Satan’s involvement in their temptations during the Passion week had Jesus not told them (Luke 22:31). Likewise, we often aren’t aware of the full cosmic struggle in which we are involved. But these texts and others remind us that the struggle is occurring, and we should be careful jumping to conclusions based on our perceptions alone.
Redirection forces something out of our hands we had hoped to keep. Through that, we begin to realize God’s plan for our life does not equate to the easy or comfortable road; but he is working all things together, even this disappointed, for our good (Romans 8:28).
I realized now that the purpose of pain is to bring our attention back to God’s and His promises and the hope we have in Christ. He promises that he hears us when we call (Matthew 7:7). He promises to be near to us (Psalm 34:18). He promises to be faithful (Deuteronomy 31:6). He promises that this hurt will end (Revelation 21:4). He promises that when we seek him, he will transform our hearts to desire more of him (Psalm 37:4). He will not leave us in the misery of our disappointment, because he has not finished the work he started in us (Philippians 1:6). He will assure us of his love as we invite him into the struggle we feel.
When God takes something away, he creates space in our lives to fill us with more of him and his blessings. That is the greatest gift of all. It may not feel like it in the moments where we are forced to reconcile disappointment, but he wants to help us understand it is true. He wants us to experience for ourselves — to taste and see, and know that he is good (Psalm 34:8).
Disappointment may be part of living in this world, as we struggle to let go of our earthly desires and open our hearts to receive the good things God wants to give us. But if we are in Christ, our struggle with disappointment is only temporary. The promises of God, and the joy we experience as we realize them, are eternal.
The crucial thing for us to remember is that all that God does for us as his children is for our good. He is blessed in both the giving and the taking away because both are for the sake of our joy.
Often it is in the taking away that our true love and trust are revealed, which is a great mercy to us and usually for others. And often, in this age, the most valuable, most satisfying, most beneficial, longest lasting gifts we receive and pass along to others end up coming through the experiences of our losses.
The story about Satan and Job appeared in Desiring God.