God drew me to a scripture recently that deposited a unit of thought in my head. “Why was this man born blind” the disciples asked Jesus. He replied “so that the works of God may be made manifest in him” (John 9:3).
The world exists, warts and all, so that the works of God may be made manifest in it. Sin, sickness, and evil exist in order for the works of God to be displayed. It’s like setting skittles up in order to bowl a strike. Why is that skittle standing there? To be knocked down. Jesus is asked why a particular person born blind? He says, in effect; in order that he receive his sight. This puts a rather different perspective on the fallen aspects of the world we see all around us. They do not merely stand there to oppose God and his kingdom, forcing God to exert himself to do something about them, a bit like weeds push through the soil and force a gardener to remove them. No. God has the real initiative. He waits, like a marksman, allowing his foe to come towards him so he can dispatch them.
It is not just the removal of evil that is the issue. It’s the means by which it is accomplished that is a key to the whole deal. Evil is dispatched at great cost and in the name of God’s son Jesus. God is not just having a fun game of skittles, the manifestation of his works cost him the agonising, sin bearing, death of his son. He decided before the foundation of the world that he would manifest (make known, display, let shine forth, make visible, make concrete in bricks and mortar) his works.
When you see evil, or suffering, we need to have the perspective that this is only permitted right now in order that the works of God might be manifest. God’s cross hairs are trained on it. It’s time is shoot. God will work good through it. And if Jesus’ ministry is anything to go by, then nine times out of ten that’s going to be supernatural healing. Ok. It is10 out of 10. The only reason I shy away from that is because it gives the impression that God’s works cannot also be manifest in long term care for people who are unwell, or that God cannot decide to end someone’s life to take them to be with him. His works can be manifest in both those cases in different ways. I guess I’m just saying its “both and”.
Helen Keller (someone who had her fair share of trials being born deaf and blind) sums up what I am waffling about in one sentence:
“Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it”. Helen Keller. Quotes in Robbie Dawkins book. P171
The story of the bible, the manifestation of God’s works in the earth, is not simply in created perfection, but in overcoming evil at great personal cost. Swallowing it all down and destroying it in himself.