The women's Bible study I've been attending is studying the book of Genesis. We've been meeting for two months and are only now getting to chapter six! At first, I thought that we'd be zipping right through. I mean, it's Genesis, the very beginning... how long can you discuss Adam and Eve and the six days of creation? But as we've been delving deeper into the verses, I see that I was wrong.
From the very beginning of the Bible, the themes of justice, love, mercy, failure, redemption, and temptation are evidence in the struggle between good and evil that begins when the first humans are presented with the choice of rebellion or obedience. I always wondered why God didn't just STOP Eve from giving in to temptation, or give Adam a little nudge to do something about the situation. Then none of it would have happened; they would have continued to live in Eden in perfect harmony with God. But that was not the ultimate plan. God had a bigger picture in mind. By giving humans free choice instead of creating them as puppets or robots, God allowed them the possibility to mess up. And they did. Thus the story of the universe began, the story of God as the redeemer of a broken world, a God whose power transcends culture, time, generations, and languages.
"Here is my servant whom I have chosen, the one I love, in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on Him, and He will proclaim justice to the nations." - Matthew 12:18
The question in my mind is still there, though. Why go through all this trouble to demonstrate absolution? Why all the wars, the natural disasters, the centuries of conflict? There are some days when I look at the news, become overwhelmed with grief at the amount of suffering in the world, and think that it would have been better if God didn't let mankind continue past that first transgression. Maybe I will be searching for the answer all my life.
I do know a few things, though. Without sin, there is no concept of forgiveness. The greater the wrong, the sweeter the taste of mercy. Evil is real; with evil comes the need for punishment, and in a society with so much wrongdoing I can't imagine what life would be like if there wasn't the hope of Someone who could provide us with justice.
"Listen to me, my people; hear me, my nation: The law will go out from me; my justice will become a light to the nations. My righteousness draws near speedily, my salvation is on the way, and my arm will bring justice to the nations. The islands will look to me and wait in hope for my arm." - Isaiah 51:4-5
There are many more unanswered questions I have. The foundation of my beliefs, though, is that God IS good, and despite the confusion and lack of understanding in my human mind, I will trust in His goodness through my studies and search for truth. Even if I never fully see the eternal plan (I don't even know if I could grasp it without my mind exploding!), I am confident that God is working everything together "for good, for those who are called according to His purpose." - Romans 8:28