God Got Jokes
Just when we thought that things couldn’t possibly get any worse, they do. We struggle to make sense of the election, truth, morality, politics as usual and the world in flux. Barely making it, scraping by at best, with mouths to feed and bills to pay, we need a change; a light at the end of the tunnel. We search for relief and wonder why a perfect God who could eliminate all pain and suffering with a mere thought, tolerates evil? The Shack, by Wm. Paul Young sheds light on the issue.
After losing his young daughter to a demented serial killer, the protagonist, Mackenzie suffers the Great Sadness, a prolonged period of grief and anguish. He doubts himself, mourns the loss of his daughter and questions his faith.
Via a prolonged encounter with the Trinity, he learns that the problem lies not with evil or a capricious God. The problem is instead a doubting us. We simply lack faith that no matter how rough it gets, all works for good even that which we perceive as evil. Despite our professed belief, we don’t believe that the Good Shepherd always tends to his flock. The Broken and the Whole, Discovering Joy After Heartbreak by Rabbi Charles S. Sherman reaches a similar conclusion.
Still, the Divine could help a Brotha out. Make things easier, less confusing. Why he doesn’t remains a mystery. And just when we think we have it all figured out; at the precise moment we get our acts together, he chuckles.
The notion of free will is another enigma. We can certainly decide what clothes to wear, profession to pursue, path to take or whom to love. And we should exercise decision-making over our lives whenever possible. But the notion of free will is more fancy than fact.
Only God can choose from an infinite number of options, do whatever he pleases, all that he wills, anything he imagines. Only he has free will.
We are instead forced to make difficult decisions, with incomplete if not faulty information, from a limited number of options, none of which we choose, most of which are bad and with consequences we cannot discern. Witness the current election.
With every blessing there is a curse. With every curse there is a blessing. What seems inconsequential today can have far-reaching consequences tomorrow. What appears important today becomes immaterial tomorrow. Only God knows what the future holds.
And like the parable of the Lady or the Tiger, we are likely to endure a man-eater no matter which door we choose; regardless as to how we vote. All we can do is roll the dice and hope for the best.
Our choice if any is how we decide. Our free will, if real, is how we handle whatever emerges from behind the door. Such is the nature of free will. Such is the nature of life.
Even love, God’s greatest gift to man, is a gamble. It never runs smoothly, can be inconvenient, unconventional, perhaps forbidden, tends not to last, at least for most of us and takes significant maintenance and upkeep.
Life offers ample reason to question God’s mercy; the crack head down the street, children in peril, the kidnappings and rape of school girls, graphic acts of terror with dull knives and explosive devises. He tests our most cherished notions, especially those about ourselves. And this election from hell gives us all pause.
Without question, God got jokes. And we seldom get the punchline. But despite our questions, notwithstanding our doubts, regardless the horror this world holds, we believe. We are far too spiritual to think otherwise.
More, we are persuaded of his inherent goodness, without which we would give up; absent which we would lay down and die. Everything is perfect even if sometimes unpleasant.
So we’d better learn to laugh at the absurdity of life. And find joy in the here and now; wherever and whenever we can. The bottom line is that the present is a present; a gift from above.
We only pray that God delivers no surprise on November the 8th.
Leo Barron Hicks, Founder and CEO
Blackacre Policy Forum