So why does God intentionally allow evil as in the case of Job? This is not a question that the Bible answers fully. However, the Bible does give us some insights into the question. God says he himself is . . .
"The One forming light and creating darkness, Causing well-being and creating calamity; I am the Lord who does all these (Isa 45:7)."
So we should avoid the temptation to defend God by not laying any responsibility at his feet for calamity. Job's friends vehemently defended God, not wishing to lay any of the evil that befell Job at God's feet. However, from our vantage point as readers, we can see that God intentionally allowed Satan to afflict Job. In the end, they had spoken wrongly of God.
Even brutal, wicked Assyria's attacks on Israel demonstrate that God is behind calamity. God refers to Assyria as, "the rod of my anger and the staff in whose hands is My indignation (Isa 10:5)." These texts clearly indicate that God is responsible for both well-being and calamity.
This seems to contradict passages such as Psalm 34:8 which says, "O taste and see that the Lord is good." If he is good, why does he create calamity? Unlike eastern religions that deny the existence of evil and suffering by claiming them to be illusions, the Bible teaches that God uses calamity and suffering.
"... the Lord your God has led you ... testing you, to know what was in your heart, ...He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna ... that he might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord ... the Lord your God was disciplining you just as a man disciplines his son. (Dt 8:2-5)."
All of the discomfort in the wilderness was not without some purpose. God always has a purpose in suffering. We see this in Paul as well.
"... to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me-- Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness. (2 Cor 12:7-9)."
Most believers understand that God uses difficulties for our good. God disciplines his children as a father, and we all understand that discipline is about training, not punishment. Good and bad children alike receive discipline from good fathers, and eventually learn self-discipline.
However, the difficulty many have is not that we suffer evil and calamity. Often, the difficulty comes when it is excessive. Just as it is senseless (and illegal) to punish a child excessively, it sometimes seems senseless when the Lord's discipline is excessive. What are we to do when the difficulties we face don't make sense? We will explore this question next week.