Do you ever say that to God? During another Saturday at work, making the world safe for rich people who want their boats covered, I ended up debating just that. It was a long road getting there, starting with confession- a confession that included not giving God the proper respect. So it may sound funny that the talk drifted that way. But it wasn't a matter of questioning or doubting His plan for this fallen world, or accusing Him of "evil", like the atheists who don't even believe He exists do. It was more like Brian Wilson in his song Love And Mercy:
I was lying in my room and the news came on TV
A lotta people out there hurtin' and it really scares me....
And I thought about some of those people hurting. Those who have lost loved ones to cancer, to violence... The kids caught up in depression, in cutting, in purging... The hopelessly lost... and it made me think, surely there was a way that Your will could have been accomplished without all the sin, all the pain, all the tears...
The immediate answer I got, and little more, was, "The iron being forged pleads to be removed from the furnace." To the point, succinct, but hardly comforting. Although I did feel His peace on the subject, I realized my problem was not with The Plan, but my inability to perceive it correctly at times like this. Can You not help me to make peace with the plan?
Saturday night (minutes ago as I type), I got three answers from Mark 8. Three answers for different people, or types of people.
Answer #1: I'm not telling.
11 The Pharisees came and began to question Jesus. To test him, they asked him for a sign from heaven. 12 He sighed deeply and said, “Why does this generation ask for a sign? Truly I tell you, no sign will be given to it.”
The key to this is "this generation". Jesus was specifically talking to those who do not believe on this one. They want Jesus to come down from heaven, part their personal Red Sea, and then show His ID, and it ain't gonna happen. But does this apply to me? In the sense that, in seeking peace on the issue, I was in effect looking for a sign, even though it wasn't truly my intent. Sometimes, you can see the big picture, accept the pains as a mortal, temporary thing- and sometimes it gets a little too close. To get the perspective back, you have to back up a little.
Answer #2: Whaddya mean, you don't get it?
14 The disciples had forgotten to bring bread, except for one loaf they had with them in the boat. 15 “Be careful,” Jesus warned them. “Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod.”
16 They discussed this with one another and said, “It is because we have no bread.”
17 Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked them: “Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened? 18 Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don’t you remember? 19 When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?”
“Twelve,” they replied.
20 “And when I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many basketfuls of pieces did you pick up?”
They answered, “Seven.”
21 He said to them, “Do you still not understand?”
By this point, the Disciples should have been beyond the level of understanding to get this. Jesus had explained this kind of thing many times, in many ways. And I know I am at that point on this subject as well. Man chose the evil world rather than paradise. God graciously gives us a way out. But the way out isn't during this lifetime, and sometimes we expect to go on "spiritual welfare" to make do until our time comes. Sometimes, God wants me to figure it out myself... and sometimes, He wants me to just give it to Him and not question. Me, I'd like an instruction manual, skip the Spanish language half, please...
Answer # 3: There's something in your eyes...
22 They came to Bethsaida, and some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him. 23 He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, “Do you see anything?”
24 He looked up and said, “I see people; they look like trees walking around.”
25 Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.
I came upon this story, and the two like it, early in the week. How is it that Jesus had to spit in mud (or in the other case, on the deaf-mute's tongue) to effect the miracle? Why did He have to do an "extra whammy" to "get His mojo working"? One of the answers I found was the faith level. Consider one: this was in Bethsaida, where Jesus had already criticized the people for their lack of faith. Consider two: this was not like the other blind men, like the one who cried out, "Son of David, have mercy on me!" This guy was brought to Him, and we don't know whether he had any faith or not. And we don't know if his buddies had any faith or just wanted to see Jesus do a trick.
Nevertheless, Jesus decided to heal him, and it was a bit of a struggle because of the lack of faith. Sometimes I can through my faith see things clearly. Other times, when I've let my "faith+move" (See last Sunday's message) slide, I end up seeing "people like trees walking around."
So the three-fold answer to my prayer was:
- Don't expect a gift wrapped explanation in this life. Sometimes you have to just accept;
- Buck up! You have enough knowledge to get past this- if you want to;
- If you were working your faith, you wouldn't need mud in your eyes.
The writer of Hebrews scolded his readers for still requesting "milk" when they should be teaching others "by this point". I think God told me today, "The Similac bar is closed. "