suffering comes into focus when tragic events like the Haiti earthquake and tsunamis occur; this time receiving some new and interesting answers from Mark Dowd (Comment, January 22).
One possibility that was not mentioned or explored and may help our understanding is the activity of Satan. We do not usually think of him as actually doing anything on a physical level or see him as causing any material problems or damage in the natural order.
Instead, he has been relegated to the role of tempter and is little more than a malign spiritual influence, while the biblical view of Satan is massively different to this.
In the book of Job he is revealed as destroying Job’s sons and daughters and cattle with different disasters: fire and wind are seen as being at his control. And on the sea of Galilee Jesus needed to rebuke the natural forces of wind and waves and order them to “be muzzled” (the literal translation) which some see as being linked to what was about to happen in Gadara in the form of the exorcism of Legion. In that case, Satan knew his kingdom was about to be assaulted and attempted to drown Jesus in the sea.
Some may see this answer of Satanic activity as too simplistic and naïve a response to the problem of natural disasters – and, in any case, why does God allow Satan to wreak havoc on the world as he has?
Even Job didn’t get these questions answered. There are some questions that will only become clear in the light of eternity: suffering is one of them.
Yours faithfully, JOHN LOVETT Bedale, North Yorkshire