It can be confusing at times what role God plays in pain, hardship and suffering versus what is sin or the fall.

We see in scripture that God created a good earth and that everything he’d created in those six days was good. Then sin enters the scene, and much of the good is spoiled. Satan’s evil is part of this. I believe Satan has been given some leeway under the authority of God. God doesn’t cause any of the evil that Satan does, but he has given Satan some leeway to have that hostility.

The evil of sin in the world isn’t just because of Satan, though. God specifically said to Adam and by extension all mankind, “…cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life. …By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return” (Genesis 3:17-19, ESV).

Because of Satan’s evil and man’s sin, God in his sovereignty allowed for an environment where there’s going to be danger and chaos. He also made a plan for redeeming us and the world through us. “For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (Romans 8:19-21).

When I read this passage, I see God’s lordship and good eternal purposes still being enacted through a fallen world. I believe what happened in Genesis 3 was not an accident or plan B. I see it as a part of God’s sovereign plan in order to manifest his fullness to humanity. Why? Because just one verse earlier, Paul wrote, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18).

When we contemplate suffering in the world, we must never lose sight of the fact that God doesn’t exist for us. We exist for God. Because of this, he is glorified as we grow through sorrow and pain to better understand and worship the perfect goodness of who he is.