Have you ever had one of those dreams where a particularly vicious insect was plaguing you, and then you wake up and start kicking because you feel that phantom sensation of something crawling up your leg? Yea… let’s just say that between having been afflicted by a series of these dreams and subsequently planting my rather large foot in my pregnant wife’s side a couple of times it wasn’t worth going back to sleep Thursday morning. When I told this story at work one of my coworkers told me about the time his son put a plastic scorpion next to his wife’s face and then dangled a piece of string in her face to wake her up. Laughing at his story I told him that I’d never be able to pull something like that off, my wife knows where I store all my firearms.
I stumbled across this 404 error earlier this week as I was perusing the internet. If there’s a better 404 page, I’ve never seen it. It still cracks me up that one of the legacies that will probably follow Gore for the rest of his life will be his claim (though greatly exaggerated) that he created the internet. File that under a big “Oops Moment.”
I read some commentary on Ecclesiastes this week that presented an analogy that got me thinking. It started me thinking about an application of this analogy that the author did not present in his work. The premise of his analogy was that all of creation (past, present, and future) is part of a beautiful work of art that is currently in the making; it is a work of art whose beauty and brilliance will not be recognized until its completion at the end of time. Just as the only person who can understand the beauty of a masterpiece before it is completed is the author/artist, so God is the only being capable of understanding the beauty of his creation prior to its completion.
The wonder of the analogy is this; everything has its place in this masterpiece, including things like good and evil. Don’t take this analogy too far, I’m not saying that God is the creator of evil; rather I am saying that evil has its place. Just as darker colors in a painting are used to accentuate the light, so the presence of evil in the world can be used to accentuate the holiness, the majesty of God. Romans 9:17 says “For Scripture says to Pharaoh: ‘I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.’”* And again in verse 23 “What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory.” Without getting into any discussion of the application of these verses to predestination or God’s sovereignty vs. man’s free will, understand that I reference this chapter in Romans as supporting evidence that everything has its place, even those seemingly incomprehensible acts of evil committed worldwide.
Even Christ himself touches on this subject in John 9. Here we see the story of a blind man being brought to Jesus, a man who was born blind. His disciples asked Him who had sinned that caused this man to be born blind. Jesus tells them that it was not his (the blind man) fault nor his parents, rather he had been born blind “so that the works of God might be displayed in him.”
The beauty of this analogy is that it provides the far simplest answer I have ever encountered for “why do bad things happen to good people, or why do bad things happen at all?” The answer, while not necessarily and easy one to accept, is simple, bad things happen to accentuate or magnify God’s glory. We don’t have to like it; we just simply have to realize that we are incapable of comprehending the masterpiece that is creation, the masterpiece that has yet to be completed.
Again, let me reiterate, I am not saying that events like the Holocaust or 9/11 were created or caused by God. No, those events are solely rooted in the depravity of man or the fall/pride of Satan if you wish to trace it back further. What I am saying is that none of these events were outside of God’s control; instead they are simply part of a tapestry whose majesty and complexity has yet to be realized.
It’s moments like these when I catch a glimpse of how much of the picture we are missing that I begin to get a better grasp of the overall scope and magnitude of what God has created. “I will give thanks to you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” Psalms 139:14
*Romans 9:17 refers to Exodus 9:16, but for the sake of my analysis the reference in Romans made a whole lot more sense to use.