Some Christians seem to operate under the mentality that Satan is bigger than God. These folks would do well to pay closer attention to the story of Job. Sure, God let Satan take a couple of runs at Job, but those runs came with restrictions. For the first run, Satan couldn’t do anything to Job’s physical body (Job 1:12). For the second one, he could injure Job’s body but couldn’t literally kill him (Job 2:6). The point in both cases was that God was in control of Satan. Satan couldn’t do anything that God didn’t first allow.
We find this same truth on display in Revelation 2:8-11, where Jesus warns the Christians of Smyrna that Satan was about to throw some of them into prison. The warning meant that Satan was going to work through some ungodly people — perhaps the unbelieving Jews whom Jesus referred to as “the synagogue of Satan” — to persecute the Smyrna Christians by having some of them arrested. You ask, “Why would God allow such a thing?” Jesus’ answer was that God was going to use the whole ordeal as a testing of those Christians’ faith. But Jesus also explained that the testing/tribulation/persecution would be limited to ten days (Revelation 2:10). Note that: ten days, no more, no less. I favor the interpretation of the days being 24-hour days, but even if they were years or specific periods of persecution, the fact remains that God limited the number to ten.
A third example of this truth is found in Satan formally requesting that God allow him to sift Peter (Luke 22:31). Because the Greek word translated as “you” in the verse is plural, Satan’s request extended to all the apostles, not just Peter. Here again, though, we find that Satan couldn’t do what he wanted to do without first asking God’s permission. His will had to bend to God’s will. God controlled not only what he could do but also how long he could do it.
Christian, I encourage you to claim this great truth anytime you sense that Satan is coming hard at you. I won’t tell you that your time of testing/tribulation/persecution will be easy to endure, but I will tell you that it won’t last one second longer than God allows. Furthermore, it won’t be one degree more difficult than He allows. Job, the Christians of Smyrna, Peter, and the other apostles (minus Judas Iscariot, of course) got through their bouts with Satan and came out the other end of them to serve God again. And, believe it or not, so will you. Perseverance is required on your part, though, enough perseverance to see the process through to its scheduled end. That’s the end that God has had in mind for it from the get-go, and it’s the one that Satan just won’t be able to extend no matter how hard he tries. You might question why God is allowing Satan to treat you so harshly, and you might also question why God is allowing the treatment to last as long as it is, but don’t ever doubt that God remains in ultimate control of the situation. His stopwatch for the event is ticking, and He won’t let Satan color outside the ordeal’s acceptable lines in even the slightest way.