Sovereignty and Evil

Below is a comment I made today in response to Richard Beck’s post. He is doing a series entitled “On Warfare and Weakness.”

I was watching my three year old daughter play at church on Sunday. She was with another little girl, and 2 messy haired boys were pretending to be monsters and chasing them around. It was evident that the girls, while enjoying the game, were also a bit scared. My daughter doesn’t have siblings her own age, and the whole “monster” concept is a bit foreign. Through all the screaming and fleeing, the laughing definitely became more “nervous” the closer the monsters got.
At one point, the other little girl started crying. My daughter, with eyes big as saucers, turned around and ran and pushed one of the boys to the ground. The monster got up. The other girl stopped crying. And they all decided to play another game.
Never did I intervene. I certainly could have at any point. But rather, as a dad, I understand it is important for my 3 year old daughter to learn the economics of relationships so that she can grow into a woman who can navigate this crazy world and be a blessing to others and enjoy life.
This analogy falls so desperately short that perhaps it is more damaging than helpful to use it.
Yet I continue. This is how I view God’s power in response to evil. He is eternally above and more powerful than it. Yet he allows his creation to suffer through it. If I think of him as someone without the power to end it, then life is so terrifying I doubt I would want to live another day. If I think of him as someone with the power to end it but doesn’t, and evil sometimes ultimately succeeds, than He is so terrifying I doubt I could love him.
The only way I can love life, and love God, is by believing he has the power, yet he doesn’t end it. And the problem then is that we don’t understand the true nature of evil and suffering. I believe God wept as he watched His Son be subjected to the sufferings of this world. And I believe he weeps as he watches us be subjected to sufferings and evil. Yet, I believe he views the whole thing as an Abba who is completely in control. An omnipotent, omniscient father who knows when to intervene, and knows when to stay his hand. Perhaps evil’s victories appear as such because of our human perception. He allows it for a time because he sees the big picture.
This may be an illusion. But it is one I can live with. Like Pink, I am just trying to be “wrong in all the right ways.”

Music for the misunderstood.

I have been deeply moved by the music written by Tenth Avenue North’s lead singer Mike Donehey. In almost all of his music, I see my story, and I see him showing me how Jesus loves me in it. Without even knowing me, Mike Donehey and the band minister Jesus to the deepest part of my heart. A part of my heart I continually protect from even the people closest to me.

Sometimes it seems difficult to be understood  in our must vulnerable expressions.    We have each learned that exposing our most beautiful authentic side exposes ourselves to be unloved, used, or grossly misunderstood.  We, like small children, are quick learners that it is dangerous to be known.  Yet we desperately yearn for it.   Yearning is too small a word.  We live for it.  The question is not whether we need to be known and understood by others, the question is whether it is worth the suffering that the striving brings.

The high goal is to strive for that mutual knowledge, the mutual understanding in our closest relationships.  The reality is, sometimes we are too weary to endure another minute of shame and frustration in the fight to be understood and known.

Music is a way God is telling you that he gets you.  A song that describes your story, your feelings, your yearning so accurately that you spontaneously laugh, weep, dance and worship for a reason you cannot define.   God is telling you through that song that he understands exactly where you are at.  And you are not alone.  The song was written by another human, and is resonates with a whole group of humanity.

So music of all types can be a profound comfort to people in all levels of pain, even if the message of the music is not particularly comforting.  It says “You are not alone.”  You are sharing in an experience of life that is shared by others, and God sees the authentic expression of your heart, and keeps loving you still.