Satan: You say that your light ALWAYS pierces the darkness, but I beg to differ. I know many who are consumed with darkness. I've worked to make it so. Whenever suffering hits them, I lead them to despair. I lead them to question why YOU allowed these things to happen to them. Mr. All-Powerful who sits up here and watches his creation cry out in pain and agony as death and sickness and tragedy happen all around them. Do you know how much it pleased me to see the outcry surrounding all those school shootings? How could a just God allow innocent little children to be murdered by a sick-twisted mind? Why didn't God intervene? Why didn't God save my child? I plant these questions repeatedly, not only in the hearts and minds of Americans, but I work all over the globe. Heck, in the U.S. it's difficult. They are pretty wealthy and don't suffer as much as those in other areas. I really do a lot of work in Africa and South America and Asia. The "developing world" they call it. I call it a hot bed for raising darkness. Every time a child dies of hunger because of a failure to distribute enough of the world's food, I'm planting seeds of despair. Every time a child dies of malaria because of do gooders who banned pesticides and those who fail to get mosquito nets to them, I raise questions of doubt. Every time a government becomes oppressive and then rebels engage them in battle wounding innocents and causing mass refugees, I raise the ante! Me! Me, do you hear?! I work to have them blame you--you who claim to be all-powerful and all-good. You could fix the world and prevent all of this stuff, but you allow it to persevere in its perverseness! Good thing for me too.
God: It pains me to see these things happen.
Satan: So why don't you do something about it? Why don't you stop it all?
God: You don't understand the cross, do you?
Satan: Of course, I understand the cross. Jesus' sacrifice for humanity's sins--paying the price for accumulated evil so that they might have eternal life. Oh, I understand it quite well, thank you very much. As much as I don't like it, I understand it.
God: You got part of the answer right, but that's only part of the answer.
Satan: Oh, this ought to be good. Give it to me straight. Let me know how the cross relates to suffering.
God: I don't allow myself permission to be above the suffering of my creation.
Satan: Now what is that supposed to mean?
God: Don't play dumb. You know very well what you did to me when I took on flesh. You know very well the injustice you committed toward me.
Satan: Oh, yes. I was having quite a ball. I was enjoying myself thoroughly. Do you know how many times I laughed at the kangaroo court that sentenced Jesus to death? Do you know how I howled when they demanded crucifixion! Every time they whipped your boy, I squealed with delight. As the blood flowed, my heart rate increased. It was a delight to see. When they led him out weak and powerless, unable to carry his own cross, I smiled. With each hammer stroke as the nails were driven, some winced, I sighed in contentment. With each struggle for breath, some shed tears. I made memories. When he cried out in forsakenness, I rattled off peals of laughter. And when he breathed his last, I gloated. I just wish there would have been further violence I could have perpetrated upon him. I wanted to spit on him myself instead of just letting those guards do it!
God: (with a pained expression) There wasn't much more you could inflict. Jesus/I suffered the worst humanity could throw at us.
Satan: Yes, you did. And what's your point?
God: I suffered. I died. I endured injustice and agony and darkness. I am not above suffering. I suffer with my creation. All-powerful I may be, but I do not control my creation. It is free. Humans are free. The world is free. The animals are free. I do not rejoice that it rebelled against me, but I gave it that choice. It continues on in freedom and suffering is a price for that freedom. But I will not compromise their freedom yet. And I will not allow them to suffer alone. When they hurt, I hurt. When a child dies, I understand. When they grieve, I grieve. This is another reason why I went to the cross. This is why I let you have your way. I had to suffer. I had to die. They had to know their God suffers with. I am on the hook, or in this case, on the cross, for suffering in my creation. I know their pain. I know their despair. I know their darkness.
Satan: Big freakin' deal. So what? You know their suffering. Small consolation that is to a grieving mother. Small consolation that is to those who saw the horror of the Holocaust. Small consolation that is to one dying and in pain from cancer. So what if you suffer with them? So what if you know what they feel? They still have pain. They still are surrounded by death. They still have despair.
God: You know, you might actually have some argument, but you forget that the cross does not stand alone.
Satan: Please, don't remind me.
God: Too bad.
Satan: No. Not again. Not back to that cruel joke of yours.
God: It's only cruel to those who want despair--who want hopelessness--who want darkness.
Satan: Must you thwart my every move?
God: Of course. Sworn enemies do that to each other.
Satan: Then why is it that you always have the last word?
God: Because I AM the last Word, and that Word is ALWAYS good.
Satan: Nice play on words there, jerk!
Satan: So, death won't ever win?
Satan: Pain, suffering?
Satan: Enmity, strife?
Satan: Principalities and powers?
Satan: Can't I win just one round?
God: Not a chance. I raised Jesus to show this very thing. Not only do I suffer with humanity, but I turn their mourning into dancing. The resurrection signifies this promise.
Satan: No fair!
God: You say that a lot.
Satan: Ah, but you still haven't given a reason for all that suffering. You still haven't said why you allow it to continue.
God: No. I haven't. And I will not go into detail, at least at this point except to say that I continue to work in and through suffering. Nearly every person who goes through emotional or physical or spiritual suffering finds that some good has come out of it. That's where I'm at work. I can see the eventual outcomes of all things, and it is my hope that people will trust that I see the big picture. I see the end, and when that end takes place, all will become clear. All will be good.
Satan: Do you really think they will buy that line of thought? You know I will exploit it to the fullest.
God: Yes to the second question. I don't know to the first. It depends upon whether or not they want to trust me or themselves. They have the freedom to choose.
Satan: I'll be working to ensure they choose poorly.
God: I bet you will. I bet you will.