In my last post I expressed my belief that circumstances that seem hellish and horrible are sometimes part of God’s perfect plan.
Is this just wishful thinking?
As a certain Science Guy would say, consider the following.
The Bible is basically a story, an epic narrative woven of history and prophecy and poetry and one or two love songs. In the story of Scripture there are powerful examples of events that seemed utterly tragic, sickeningly futile and completely meaningless, but were used by God for good.
Job was a righteous and prosperous man who lost everything. His property was all stolen or burned to cinders. His children were killed. His body was racked with painful sores. His wife told him to curse God and die, his friends attacked him with false accusations—and God was silent. No matter how Job cried out in pain and confusion, his Maker did not answer.
The kingdom of Israel, God’s chosen people, built him a beautiful temple in the holy city of Jerusalem. They believed Israel, Jerusalem and the temple would last forever because God was with them. Then Israel split into two kingdoms, which bickered for centuries before suffering total defeat by the Assyrian and Babylonian empires. Jerusalem was ruined. The temple was destroyed. God’s chosen people were scattered across the world, and his promises of a coming king and an everlasting kingdom seemed to have been broken.
The ragged descendants of Israel believed Jesus was going to fulfill ancient prophecies, break the power of Rome and establish a kingdom that would never end. Then Jesus was betrayed, condemned, humiliated, flogged and executed. The one whom they believed to be God’s own Son, in whom they had invested their lives, their hopes, their dreams, was dead.
It’s easy to look at these situations and see only the happy endings we know are coming. But the people who lived through these situations couldn’t see those happy endings. All they saw was hellish, painful, meaningless tragedy, and a God who seemed to have abandoned them.
What happened to them?
Job was finally answered by God, who restored Job’s family, fortune, health and happiness.
Many of the descendants of the Israelites became part of a greater kingdom, the Church, and watched as God’s promises began to be fulfilled in ways that surpassed their wildest dreams.
Jesus didn’t stay dead.
These tragedies, which seemed beyond even the remotest chance of redemption, were used by God to bring about comfort, peace, grace, salvation and hope.
If God could redeem those tragedies, he can certainly redeem mine. I don’t know why I had to suffer through my Thursday Afternoon of the Soul, but God knows. I see only a few scattered pieces; God sees the whole puzzle. “Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”