Bible Question:

Is God or Satan responsible for suffering and trials? What does the Bible teach? Why am I always told that Satan is responsible for all the suffering in this world, and that God does not make us suffer?  I am told that only good comes from God. Does God cause suffering? 

Bible Answer:

Does Satan cause all of the suffering and unhappiness? Or, does Satan and God both cause suffering? Is God or Satan responsible for suffering and trials? The answer is that God says He is finally in control and responsible for all suffering and calamity. Is God responsible for sickness too? The answer is yes.

Is God or Satan responsible for suffering and trials?

God’s Plans Will Be Fulfilled

God has told us that He plans and not one can frustrate His plans. Isaiah 14:24  captures this simple but very important truth.

For the LORD of hosts has planned, and who can frustrate it? And as for His stretched-out hand, who can turn it back?” Isaiah 14:24 (NASB)

Other Scriptures also teach that men make many plans, but the counsel of God will stand (Proverbs 19:21). James 4:13-17 warns us to not make plans without realizing that God may override our plans. We may seek safety and security, but God may cause something else to happen.

Isaiah 14:24 states,

The LORD of hosts has sworn saying, “Surely, just as I have intended so it has happened, and just as I have planned so it will stand. Isaiah 14:24 (NASB)

Later in Isaiah 46:11, God repeats the message that He has made plans and His plans will be fulfilled.

Truly I have spoken; truly I will bring it to pass. I have planned it, surely I will do it. Isaiah 46:11 (NASB)

God’s plans will be fulfilled.

God Causes Calamity

We have been reminded of an important truth that God is all powerful and He is in total control. Therefore, when Amos 3:6-7 says that God’s plans include calamity. or suffering and trials, we understand that man cannot stop Him.

If a trumpet is blown in a city will not the people tremble?
If a calamity occurs in a city has not the LORD done it?
Surely the Lord GOD does nothing
Unless He reveals His secret counsel
To His servants the prophets.
Amos 3:6-7 (NASB)

This passage teaches that God declares when calamity occurs. He causes it to happen.

God Does All These Things

So, what types of calamity does God cause to occur? First, God does not cause people to sin (James 1:13). Second, God does both heal and causes illness according to Isaiah 45:7. Exodus 4:11 says,

The LORD said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes him mute or deaf, or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Exodus 4:11 (NASB)

Third, Matthew 6:13 reveals that God permits us to be tested. The Greek word for “temptation” in the verse refers to a test. The Greek word is translated as “trials” in James 1:2. Here is Matthew 6:13.

And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  Matthew 6:13 (NASB)

James 1:13 has already said that He does not tempt anyone, but causes us to be tested. The tests prove our faith and help us to mature spiritually.

Fourth, Isaiah 14:24-27 indicates again that God causes calamity, and no one stop Him. Fifth, God causes us to suffer in order to humble us (2 Corinthians 12:1-7). Sixth, God uses calamity to take us to heaven (2 Corinthians 4:16-18), and God warns us about false teachers to reveal what we truly love (Deuteronomy 13:3).


So, is God or Satan responsible for suffering and trials? The answer is that God takes credit for all the tragedies or suffering in life. He is in total control.  Jeremiah 18:5-10 teaches us that when people make poor decisions and choices or when they choose to sin, God sometimes allows negative consequences or calamities to occur. When Scripture says that Satan is the god of this world, that means he is the temporary god of this world by permission (2 Corinthians 4:4). Yes, the whole world lies in the power of the evil one (1 John 5:19), but only because God permits it. How does God accomplish this? 2 Thessalonians 2:6 reveals that God restrains evil. In the book of Job, we are told that God had to remove a protective hedge around Job and gave Satan permission to attack Job, causing him to suffer calamity (Job 1:10-12; 2:1-6). We can thank God that He is in total control, and never causes us to sin. Praise the Lord.