The Creator and the CreationWhen you're barely hanging on by a thread and someone cuts the thread, can you have hope? Can you trust the Creator who has allowed you to suffer?
Several years ago I heard a Native elder say that we can know about the Creator by learning about the things He has created.
At the heart of our questions about the Creator's goodness is a fear that we really are alone in this world.
I had always thought about this in terms of the beauty and order that we see in creation. But the elder also looked at it in this way: you also can not negotiate with the world He has made. As we look at recent events on this troubled planet we can see how true this is. There is no turning back the force of a tsunami or earthquake or flood. With all of mankind's knowledge no one can stop the rain or snow from falling or the wind from blowing. It is true that our care—or lack of it—affects the earth, but on the whole we have no control over the land and the seas. I don't understand why a devastating tsunami would result in the deaths of over 200,000 people. I don't know why mudslides, volcanoes and snowstorms make life on this planet so uncertain. But I know the Creator cares for His creation—and that includes us.
At the heart of our questions about the Creator's goodness is a fear that we really are alone in this world. There are times when life goes along as normal and we feel safe. We think that perhaps we will somehow make it—we have a place to live, an income, family and friends who care for us. The sun rises in the east every morning and the rivers continue to flow. Life is predictable. But then a tsunami hits. Or we get laid off from our job. Or the river floods. Or the person we trusted betrays us. And it seems that nothing is safe anymore.
If the very earth underneath us shifts and threatens to sweep us away, now can the Creator be trusted? If the things we need the most suddenly disappear, where is He? Does He care at all? Has He heard our prayers? When you're barely hanging on by a thread and then someone cuts the thread, how can you have hope?
These are valid questions. I think everyone has asked them at one time or another in their lives. If they haven't, they probably will. When hard times come, it is difficult to believe that there is Someone behind the scenes who is strong enough or loving enough to care for us. It doesn't appear to make sense. How can a loving Creator allow suffering?
I won't pretend to have all the answers. I've asked those questions myself and sometimes I still ask them. But I've learned a few things along the way that give me confidence and hope. And I see that sometimes our viewpoint is less than realistic.
If you never acknowledge … why should He concern Himself with you?
People are quick to accuse God when bad things happen. They are much slower to thank Him for all the good things that happen. There are probably millions of people who sit down to a meal every day and never give a thought to be thankful for the food they have received. They may have jobs, health, homes and more than enough to give them happiness, but they live as if this is their right. Then their car has a flat tire or their child gets sick and they shake their fist in God's face and ask, why me? My question is why not? If you never acknowledge God or ask for His help or thank Him for the thousands of ways He has blessed you, why should He concern Himself with you? He offered His love to you and you scarcely gave Him a thought. Then you want to blame Him when things get tough? Think about that.
Another thing to think about is the fact that some of our suffering comes from the wrong choices we make or the wrong choices that others have made. God doesn't plan for someone to abuse you. He gives each person the freedom to choose the way they live. No one is a robot stuck with a set of attitudes or addictions. People in authority can choose to be wise or they can abuse their power. Parents can be kind or cruel. You get the idea. The Creator has set certain laws in motion—like the law of gravity and the law of reaping and sowing. He has allowed each of us to use our freedom as we will. He cannot be blamed for our choices. All of that aside, there are times when bad things happen to good people. We know that the tsunami resulted in the death of all kinds of people—some were innocent babies and some were wicked people. Where is the justice? Where is the security that the Creator promises to provide?
If there's one thing we can learn from the Bible, it is that the Creator God isn't concerned with answering all our questions. Yet He tells us some important things—truths we can hold on to. We know that He created the world and all that is in it and saw that it was good (see Genesis 1). We know His creation has rebelled against Him, allowing the entrance of evil and suffering (see Genesis 3). We know that He sent His Son to show people what He is like (see John 1, and Hebrews 1).
...our worship is more valuable than our wardrobe.
In the person of Jesus Christ we see someone who has compassion, someone who always does what is right, someone who is willing to suffer and someone who loves with an incredible love. Jesus tells us that not even a sparrow falls to the ground without the Father's notice and that each of us is worth more than many sparrows. He also tells us that there is more to life than the time we spend here on earth. His purposes go beyond time and into eternity. Therefore, he looks at things differently than we do. He cares about the details of our lives and wants us to bring them to Him. But He cares that we give attention to what will last forever—our eternal souls and the souls of those around us.
So, our worship is more valuable than our wardrobe. Our generosity is worth more than our bank account. Our attitude means more than our status in the community. Our souls mean more than our bodies. His death on the cross brings much of that into focus: He shed His blood so that we could be free from the penalty of sin and eternal death.
That doesn't answer all our questions, but it proves one thing: He loves us.
Viola Jones is the editor of Indian LifeNewspaper.
Originally published in Indian Life Newspaper, January/February 2005.
Used with permission of the author. Copyright © 2005 Christianity.ca.