I’m writing some posts this week on God’s goodness. This is Part 2.
PAST POSTS IN THIS SERIES
“Go to the ant…consider its ways and be wise!” (Proverbs 6:6)
I’ve never really grown up. From the time I was little, I played with ants. Granted, I used to destroy them, but I considered it playing. These days, when I go running, I always finish with 15 minutes of stretching. The older I get, the more my body wants to be broken. So I slap the crap out of creakiness with some serious stretch action. In warm months, I always see ants as I stretch. Most of the time, I imagine what it would be like if _I_ was an ant. I’ll blow on the ant and watch it tumble along the ground. I think, “I wonder what the ant community called that hurricane I just made.” Because, to an ant, humans are huge. What does an ant think when I stomp right next to it when I’m running? Does the ground shake beneath him?
TO THE HORIZON (AND NOT BEYOND)
At six feet tall, on perfectly flat ground, humans can see a distance to the horizon of 3.1 miles. For a 6 footer, the eyes are 5’6″ above the ground (SquareRoot(5.5 / 0.5736) = 3.1 miles). If they had human vision, an ant, at a height of 3/16 of an inch, could see almost 2/10 of a mile (SquareRoot(((3/16)/12)/0.5736) = 0.17 miles).
Ants must be confused when they’re just walking along, doing work, and they’re suddenly crushed by a size 12 Nike or burned to death by a 10-year old’s magnifying glass. Some imagine God like this. He smites people because He’s bigger and He can. The only reason we think this – the only reason we question God’s goodness is because our perspective is so small. 3.1 miles? That’s ant-sized. God, who dwells in heaven, can see the horizon of the entire universe. He knows every play, every angle.
IT’S NOT JUST A CLOSED-DOWN DEPARTMENT STORE
John 11 demonstrates. Jesus was friends with a family. In this family were two sisters, Mary and Martha, and a brother, Lazarus. Jesus was teaching two miles from their house when “the sisters sent word to Jesus, ‘Lord, the one you love is sick’” (11:3). Lazarus had fallen ill. The bible says, “Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. Yet when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days” (11:6). After some time, and a trip to Judea, Jesus finally decides to go see Lazarus. Know what happened? “On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days.” Lazarus was dead. “When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him…’Lord,’ Martha said to Jesus, ‘if you had been here, my brother would not have died’” (11:20-21). Mary and Martha were devastated. Their brother was dead. In seeing Mary and Martha and their friends mourning, John says, “[Jesus] was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. ‘Where have you laid him?’ [Jesus] asked. ‘Come and see,’ they replied. Jesus wept.”
Have you ever been crushed in your soul and felt like you were going to die because you felt so low? And, in that time, have you ever whispered to God, “God, do you have any idea how I feel right now?” This moment in Jesus’ life is a time to prove He understands. Jesus wept. Twice, it says, he was “deeply moved.” He gets it, brother. He gets it, sister. He knows.
So Jesus is led to Lazarus’ tomb and he says, “Lazarus, come out!” And Lazarus comes out. Jesus raises him from the dead!! Jesus Christ raised a man, who had been in the tomb for four days, from the dead. Do you know what Jesus said when he was told Lazarus was sick – before Lazarus died? He said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it” (11:4). Jesus knew all along the INCREDIBLE thing that would happen! Did Mary or Martha? No. They just knew their brother was dead. They went through bitter heartche. But they witnessed something very, very, very few people ever get to see! And, because of their suffering, we are encouraged by their story today – right now. A lot of good came from that tragedy! Big X-Games heroes like Shaun White, Tony Hawk, and Travis Pastrana do some cool tricks. But what could a human ever do that would trump RAISING SOMEONE FROM THE DEAD!? God looks AWESOME when that happens! But the tears and heartache came first.
“And we know that IN ALL THINGS God works for the GOOD of those who love him…” (Romans 8:28, emphasis mine)
Jesus knows what it means to hurt. But He also sees everything. He knows what good will come about from every event in the world – even the terrible, disgusting, tragic things. In Desiring God, John Piper says, “[God] has designed from all eternity, and is infallibly forming with EVERY EVENT, a magnificent mosaic of redemptive history. The contemplation of this mosaic (with both its dark and bright tiles) fills His heart with joy.” Mosaics are beautiful and intricate. But some of the squares are black and gray and brown. They’re ugly. For some seasons in our life we see only the black square. God sees it all. He’s writing a MUCH bigger story than our single life. And our life is more than a season WITHIN our life. We’re but one role. Sometimes, that role is believing in faith that He is good – even when our circumstances are bad. The story of Job is another excellent example.
Jesus wept. There are times we will, too. Our tears and our pain don’t mean God isn’t good. It just means we’re not God. We can only see 3.1 miles. He sees the whole horizon! His designs in this life are HUGE! The tears and heartache come first. His goodness remains constant. Hold firm to Him. He is good.