Ok…so I’m going to abandon the Sketchcast answers to questions I didn’t get to for technical reasons. Sorry.
So here’s a question from the pile:
“Why would God allow the Holocaust, earthquakes, etc to happen in the first place?”
I read a newspaper article about my dad who, years ago, said when he got to heaven that would be the first question he asked God. That statement in itself is filled with a lot of irony, but I like it. I don’t know if that’s really what he asked. Maybe my first question will be “what did my dad ask you when he got here?” But I digress.
That is the age old question dealing with the problem of sin and pain. There really is no good answer for it. Notice I said “good” answer. There are many attempted answers which come off almost flippantly about sin not being God’s fault, and so on. But those are hard to sell to the hurting. I think, instead of trying to answer that question, I’ll pose another.
I was watching one of those survival shows that have been on constantly, and the host was clawing his way through the jungle, when he pointed out a spiny vine which was hanging down from the canopy, oozing a sticky, viscous liquid. He smiled and gave it a wide berth, explaining that the vine was extremely toxic, the liquid of which if it were to get under the skin would cause the skin to literally rot off your bones. My inner 15 year old said “coooool!”…but my rational side said “Why is that there? What possible use could there be for such a horrifying plant? Why would God allow that plant to sit in the jungle waiting to rot the skin of some poor, unsuspecting survival show host?”
One of the reasons I’ve never been big on going camping is that very thing…nature is out to kill you! has always been my motto.
On the other hand, the survival host went just a few more steps and smiled at an obnoxious looking weed and said “But not everything here is dangerous!”, and he went on to explain that the weed in question had powerful anti-toxins in it’s sap which were very useful for cleaning wounds and creating compresses. And as I marveled at the placement of such a wonderful plant near the flesh rotting vine, I had to ask another question: “Where did THAT come from?” For everything that is so wrong in this fallen world, there is still a lot that is RIGHT. Where does the good stuff come from?
I have a doctor friend who was telling me one day that the amount of things that can go wrong during pregnancy is staggering. He smiled and confessed that he is still amazed that so many children are born without a hitch. Where does that come from? I was reading an article about the second law of Thermodynamics, the concept of entropy…that everything is wearing down and moving toward a chaotic state, order to disorder, and so on. The article posed a question that has many physicists stumped and that is “why does ANYTHING work?” If the normal path is toward disorder, why is there any order at all? What keeps your alarm clock from just falling apart or your food processor from exploding every day?
The question of why evil and pain and suffering still exist in this world when we believe there is a good God in control is a hard question, one I don’t feel qualified to answer. But there is another question that must be logged right beside it, and that is, “what do we make of all the good in this world?” For as much as there is that seeps flesh eating poison, there are almost as many healing weeds nearby. As hostile as this world still remains, the evidence of a Friend is there at every intersection.
Evil is here, we can’t deny it. But so is good. Let’s at least try to keep our questions balanced and factor in both sides.
What do you think?
6 thoughts on “The Healing Weeds”
Thanks Rob. I love the sketchcast and all your work.
On this subject:
But the Catholic church tossed out the author so maybe its not so great.
A quick addendum to the above comment:
This link comes from a humanist website. The existence of the link, using the writings and work of the aforementioned author for humanism gives creedence to the position of the current pope as stated in the linked wikipedia article.
Also I believe the web published word for word copy of the document is a copyright rip off and probably should be deleted.
Nevertheless, your post reminded me of the story that seemed worthy of sharing. Your conclusions on the subject of evil, cruelty, and suffering are similar I believe.
I liked the link Tom! I really enjoyed de Mello’s story and assessment of the problem of evil. I had just quoted him last Sunday :
“The shortest distance between a human being and Truth is a story.”
Tom, I also like the link. It is so true that life is such a mystery!
The description of that plant made me wonder, how’s your “seeing Christ in the movies” sense?
Men are cursed because of their disobedience and treachery. They’ve tried shedding blood and other sacrifices to make restitution, but it’s not enough. They roam the earth, unsatisfied and flesh rotting, until the blood of an innocent (who is chasing his lost love) sets them free.
Is it mere coincidence how Jesus addressed this very issue? “Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”
My wife said I didn’t make it clear that in the previous comment, I was drawing a parallel between the real world and Pirates of the Caribbean.