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JR. Forasteros - Mar 3, 2013
God is Bigger
From Series: "Venom"
Everyone knows the world isn't as it should be. There's a sickness deep within us, a rot in the human heart. The Bible calls that rot Sin, and even though no one likes to talk about Sin, we can't escape its reality. A snake once whispered to us that we could be like God. We believed that lie, and the venom of Sin has been killing us ever since. But God will not abandon us. Why do we talk about sin? Because then we get to talk about how God rescues us from Sin. After we tried to become like God, God became like us, to become our Sin, to save us. Join us the six Sundays of Lent (February 17-March 24) as we explore what Sin is and how God saves us!
More From "Venom"
One of my favorite Greek myths is the story of Pandora. Before she was a pioneer in internet radio, Pandora was a young woman with a box she was told not to open. She disobeyed, of course, and unleashed evil into the world. They told a story about a young woman who disobeyed the gods and unleashed forces far beyond her comprehension.
They weren’t too far off. The story of Pandora was a clever way for the Greeks to talk about the reality of Sin, the reality we all have to face every day: that the world isn’t like it should be. We know deep down in our bones that something’s wrong, something’s off. Every time a natural disaster strikes, or someone with power hurts someone weaker, or any time we encounter Death, the deepest part of us cries out, This isn’t right!
In those moments, those seasons, we’re overcome by how big evil seems. It’s paralyzing. We think, this is too much. We scramble for some purchase, some hope of safety and we often find it in a certain phrase. This phrase springs to our lips in those times of distress, a sort of incantation we speaking, hoping it will drive the pain away. When we’re faced with the terrible reality of our broken world, whatever incarnation it takes, we say,
Everything happens for a reason.
That’s very nearly the worst thing we could say in times of pain.
If all we meant was “everything has a cause” – that literally, everything happens because something else happened, then it’d be fine (if trite). But that’s not what we mean. When we say, Everything happens for a reason, we mean that God is causing everything. That the invisible hand behind all our troubles belongs to God. And that’s meant to be comforting, because God’s taking everything somewhere.
That perspective casts us as pawns in some cosmic chess game – we may just need to be sacrificed for the greater good.
Maybe that sets okay with you when it’s a far-off natural disaster, like a tsunami or earthquake overseas. But when it’s closer to home – a hurricane or tornado. Or a friend who’s the victim of abuse. Or the death of someone you love. Then it’s much harder to believe that a God who would do this, sacrifice someone you care about like that, inflict so much pain and suffering for some inscrutable cosmic good, that God is worth of love and worship? Everything happens for a reason.
Does it? Does God actually dictate that everything will happen for some greater good. No. The pain of Death and decay, the pain of a broken world that we sense all the time, is not God’s fault.
It’s not God’s will. God does not cause these things. That’s not what Scripture teaches, at all.
We like “everything happens for a reason” because it gives us a sense of control. When we face the bigness of Evil, we want to know Why, or at least know that someone is behind the wheel, that there’s a Plan. “Everything happens for a reason” is an answer, or a partial-answer in a time when nothing feels certain. And when we’re overcome by Evil, anything feels better than nothing.
But here’s the thing: what we need in the midst of pain isn’t answers. Knowing why doesn’t fix anything or take the pain away. Answers don’t undestroy or resurrect. When we’re suffering, when we’re face-to-face with evil, we don’t need answers and explanations. We need hope. We need a promise, an assurance, that this isn’t the End. That hope springs eternal.
And that’s what we find in the Scriptures. Not answers. Not explanations. But hope. Promise. Assurance. The Bible doesn’t actually tell us Why Bad Things Happen. Because God knows that’s not what we really need. The Scriptures teach us what we should do in the face of Evil. They tell us not Why, but What now?