Archive for February, 2013

Why would God let this happen?

He wouldn’t have, if we hadn’t wanted the apple so badly. But when we collectively chose the fruit (and let’s be honest, we all would have—it was wisdom! awareness! ripe for the picking!) and walked out of the Garden of Eden, He gave us over to our humanity.

Anyway, I think there are two possible answers to this question, both of which are plausible to me, so here you go:

1. We live in a broken world, where evil persists, and God ultimately finds a way to use our (collective) wickedness and the other general crap in this world for a purpose – He finds a way to twist it into something better.

Joseph is the prime example here. His brothers, fueled by irrational jealousy (or maybe rational, since Jacob wasn’t so quiet in his favoritism), were going to murder him. One relatively sane brother, said, “Nah, let’s just sell him to slavery.” So, golden boy gets sold to slavery, then gets thrown in jail because his owner’s wife wants to sleep with him (he refuses her and she’s so ticked that she lies to her husband and says he came on to her). Then he’s stuck in jail until the king finds him, desperate for someone to interpret his dreams. Joseph does the interpreting, the king believes him, and golden boy ends up saving Egypt from a 7 year famine.

God sees big picture. We see a tiny dot in the corner. It is beyond our comprehension and we have to trust that He will find a way to bring something out of the misery (not that everything happens for a reason, and not that he planned the evil, but that He’ll find a way to work with the evil already pervasive in this world and twist it to good, eventually). We see now, but He sees where it’s all going and what He can do with it.

2. As parents, we need to teach our children many things, for their own good. Is this what’s happening with us and God? Is He letting us learn from our mistakes—letting us find our way out on our own—in order to improve our character? Is He letting us fall, so that later, when the things that trip us get bigger, we won’t make bigger mistakes?

Or, to take this even one step further, would He actually ever have a hand in “breaking” us? The bible says God does not throw evil in our path, He does not motivate our struggles, He is never the reason behind tragedy, but let’s go with this for a second. Jacob, for example, particularly Genesis 32:22-32 (Basically Jacob wrestles all night, with a man who he believes is God and who then vanishes into thin air, after giving Jacob a limp for life). It doesn’t sound like much, and I never looked twice at it until I was forced to. Because what does it mean, anyway? Well, this is what my bible has to say about it:

“A good shepherd will relentlessly search for a wayward sheep. Sometimes, if the sheep refuses to follow his master, the shepherd takes drastic action. He breaks the sheep’s leg, places it on his shoulders and carries the sheep until it learns total dependence. At this solitary place, God wanted to make Jacob into a different person, so he took drastic action. He initiated a wrestling match that lasted from dusk till dawn. Jacob’s willfulness would not allow him to give up. So the man “broke” Jacob, touching his hip so he would walk with a limp the rest of his life.”

My meager interpretation is this: God knows that sometimes, after being broken and repaired, we are better. Maybe He lets our hearts break to make room for Himself there, or our will so we can discover His will for us. Or maybe He just knows we need something we can’t find unless we are changed. Also, if we are so willful that we refuse Him (like Jacob), He will keep looking for a way to reach us, because we are that important to Him.

Regardless of how you look at it, time is not laid out for us to see the final act. We may never know. This is why (I think) we have to trust and keep moving forward, rather than letting anything get the better of us. Also, even though God loves us, we cannot escape the consequences of our actions or the broken world we live in. What we can do is be humble, vulnerable, and open to Him, so He can work.

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It hit me one day that the Garden of Eden could be a metaphor for our souls. God created, organized, and beautified it, then handed it over to us to care for. Yet we chose the fruit, the things within our reach, the outward. Thus we are now overcome, struggling with the weeds.

(I also think Noah’s rainbow is a metaphor for grace – multifaceted, unending, beyond our comprehension, and coming after a storm has washed things clean. <Grace being the rainbow, coming after the storm of Jesus on a cross, which has washed us clean>.)

In our life and in our soul, there will be fruit and flowers and weeds, times of drought and times of plenty, toil and even renewal, just as there is in a garden. It is cyclical. Life is cyclical. We are cyclical. In it all, God is balm to the chaos. Or He can be, if you let Him.

I’m also hit by the seventh day, which was meant for resting – pausing, reassessing, recharging, and wiping the slate clean. Did you know the Jews had instructions to do this not just on a small scale every seven days, but also on a large scale every seven years? Debts were forgiven, slaves were freed, all was to be reset, every seven years. This is beautiful, I think. Mind-blowing. We need this – it’s good for us – we need to pause, reassess, and reset.

 

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