D.A. Carson explains a dualistic view of suffering well when he says:
If evil and suffering take place, it is because someone or something else did it. God not only did not do it, he could not stop it; for if he could have stopped it, and did not, then he is still party to it.
Most Christians would not outright deny God’s omnipotence and theologically resort to dualism. Yet in the throes of suffering and evil many succumb to a subtle and comfortable dualism. Every bad thing in your life and every ounce of suffering is attributed to Satan. And if it’s his fault and his “plan” then the believer is not only correct in resisting but he is commanded to do so.
Therefore, suffering is never part of God’s will. If given the choice between suffering and peace it becomes a no-brainer that God’s will is the path that is marked by peace and comfort. Of course it is not quite that black and white. For many at first we’ll say things like, “Satan’s trying to stop us from following the Lord’s will”, and so we’ll press on for awhile. But when the suffering plods on and our hearts become ravaged by pain and we begin to give up hope, we begin to wonder if maybe all of this suffering is a sign that we ought to go a different direction.
Such a view will never stare the darkness of a lost world straight in the face and say, “I’ll go” even if the only means of taking the gospel to them is profound suffering. This subtle dualism that seems to be pervasive here in America is robbing the Church of many missionaries. May pastors prepare their people and new disciples to expect suffering. Even to, at times, choose suffering for the cause of Christ. And may we pastors also be people that will choose suffering instead of resorting to a comfortable dualism.
Here’s a powerful 10 minute message from John Piper: