I really do not like poetry that much, nor did I ever have much educational exposure to this literary form. But for some reason, this poem of Ogden Nash has remained stuck within my mind from some primordial English class – many, many, many years ago… “The Purest” – by Ogden Nash
I give you now Professor Twist, A conscientious scientist, Trustees exclaimed, "He never bungles! "And sent him off to distant jungles. Camped on a tropic riverside, One day he missed his loving bride. She had, the guide informed him later, Been eaten by an alligator. Professor Twist could not but smile. "You mean," he said, "a crocodile."
Can’t you just see a professor of zoology, noting the emphasis upon the difference between a crocodile and an alligator, instead of grieving the loss of his wife, whatever the creature?
Thinking about the epic journey theme of “this Christian life” raises to the surface a number of the large, difficult questions we grapple to understand. Like this one: “Why do bad things happen to good people?” A more theologically accurate way of asking that question might be, “Why do good things happen to bad people?” We are sinful people in an evil world subject to all that the curse of sin affects. Paul wrote of the condition of man in Romans 3, “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God.”
As I wrote two days ago, I am often stunned at the expectation of so many Christian people that God owes them a life free of pain and sadness in this world. The fact of the matter is that tragedy is as likely to find its way to our address as it is to that of our unbelieving neighbor. God’s promise is not so much a deliverance from tribulations as it is a perseverance through them, and final ultimate rescue by our eternal translation to a better world. Troubles come to us as the natural result of our continued residency in a cursed world. Look at how Paul wrote about it…
RO 8:18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.
RO 8:22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wat for it patiently.
See what Paul is saying? The creation is subject to decay because of the effects of sin in this world. This accounts for natural tragedies and the like that strike both the righteous and the wicked. There will be a better day for the world… but not just for the creation. Paul says that we too groan in our sufferings as we await the fulfillment of God’s promise to redeem our bodies in accord with our standing as His adopted family. This is our hope. It is not our current experience… for if it were, it would not be hope at all. No, it would be heaven now, and that is not the way the story works!
No, we are in the midst of our journey. By God’s grace, there is much joy and pleasure in this adventure. Yet, sadness and difficulties are part of the deal as well. But God is good all the time; and all the time, God is good… and that truth is more than enough to carry us through whatever may come our way.