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The book of Job tells the story of a man who had it all, lost it all, and then got it back in spades.

The thing about Job is that he didn’t lose everything through any fault of his own. He lost it because God made a bet with Satan.

Now, I would not be one to bet against God expecting to win. No-one beats God. Not at anything. You would think Satan would have known that, but maybe when he lost his holiness and free will, he also lost the capacity to know you can’t beat God. Or maybe he just wanted to see Job suffer. In any case, Satan was permitted by God first to take away Job’s wealth and kill most of his family, and then to take away Job’s health. Poor Job was left penniless, childless, and sitting in a pile of ashes scraping pus and scabs off his sores with a piece of broken pottery. And God permitted this to happen.

When God allows evil to attack us, it’s not always because we’ve had it coming. Most of the time, yes, we have it coming, but sometimes it’s more like Job. Certainly Jesus never earned any evil attacks, and yet he had plenty of them when he was in his earthly body. God permitted these attacks as a way ultimately to bring Jesus up higher.

God is always in control. If he permits evil to come into your life, it’s either a punishment or it’s a test that, if you pass, will bring you up higher in the Kingdom. Sometimes God permits Satan to bet against you because God’s going to use the situation to your benefit.

So the point of the book of Job isn’t why God permits evil, but why our focus isn’t more on God. When Job finally acknowledges God’s vast superiority in every regard – that is, when Job humbles himself before God – he not only gets back everything he’d lost, but God adds to it. Job comes up higher.

Our time here on Earth is a series of tests. It can also be a time of punishment, if we have it coming. But regardless of whether we’re dealing with tests or punishment, our focus shouldn’t be on Satan or on praying away the evil. Our focus should always be on God, knowing he and he alone is in control.

No matter the situation, whether good or evil, your focus should be on God. No-one but God can get you through whatever it is you’re facing. When evil attacks you, don’t focus on the evil; focus on God. When Stephen was confronted by the enraged mob just before he was stoned to death, he looked past them and saw God and Jesus. He focused on God and so was able to die with blessings rather than curses on his lips. He didn’t focus on the evil that was surrounding him, he focused on God.

If you spend all your energy trying to pray the evil away, you won’t make it. It’s way stronger than you. You need to focus on God. Even if all you see around you is evil a mile deep, focus on God. That’s how you’ll get through what’s coming.

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