Ever since Adam and Eve made forbidden knowledge their afternoon snack, theologians and philosophers have grappled with the problem of evil, trying to square the existence of a self-perpetuating universal curse with a sovereign and loving God. Far be it from me — one who is neither theologian nor philosopher — to attempt to explain away cosmic mysteries in a single blog post, but I will say this much. In my own journey through pain I’ve come to believe that God always knew the world would break. He provided the Lamb before He planted the lethal tree. The cross preceded creation.
Why would He choose to do that? I’ve only been able to come up with one answer, and it’s simply this: God wants His people to go deep, and the deep things of God are hidden in redemption. This world was never meant to remain perfect. It was meant to be a potter’s wheel. A refiner’s fire. A place where mere men can be conformed to the image of Christ.
A couple of years ago a beautiful young woman, Jessica Teutsch, was killed in a head-on collision. She was in her last semester at a local college and on her way to her student teaching assignment when a young man pulled into her lane. He wasn’t drunk or texting or otherwise impaired. He was merely in a hurry and made a careless decision.
Jessica was a sweet, vibrant Christian, loved by her friends and family, respected by her professors, and the entire community grieved the tragedy. At times like this, age old questions rise to the surface. Why did God let this happen? If He’s truly sovereign, why didn’t He do something to prevent this seemingly senseless loss?
We may never fully understand, but if we’re willing to see, God gives us glimpses. Saturday’s paper ran a front-page article about the young man’s sentencing. It opens with these words:
Last Thursday’s sentencing hearing for Thomas Austin Blake, who was charged with the criminal negligence homicide of a 21-year-old girl, was more than just a hearing.
It ended up being an inspiring story of a family’s willingness to forgive in the midst of a storm. The compassion the family showed toward the defendant was so striking, it left a few, including some attorneys in attendance, wiping away tears.
“It was one of the most moving I’ve been involved in,” said 71st District Judge William Hughey.
The article is short and worth reading. It concludes with this:
“It was one of the most interesting cases I’ve dealt with, kind of taken away by the family,” (the judge) continued, impressed how the family comforted the defendant by trying to put him at ease and give him a sense of peace about the accident.
“They wanted him to do everything to move forward in life,” said Hughey.
Ms. Teutsch’s brother even presented Blake with a copy of a song he wrote in memory of his sister.
“They told the young man they didn’t have any hard feelings and wanted him to go forward in life,” said Hughey. “It was a really deep story on compassion and forgiveness.”
“The story there is you’re supposed to forgive,” said Hughey. “That says a lot.”
There’s no way anyone can plumb all the purposes of God in situations like this one, but I’m convinced with all my heart that redeeming power has been unleashed. The lives of the legal professionals in that courtroom, the lives of Jessica’s friends and family members, and the life of that young man will never be the same. And those lives will touch many more.
And as for Jessica? She left her brokenness on an East Texas country road and travels the holy highway of the redeemed. Everlasting joy is upon her head. She has obtained gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing have fled away.
The Lamb was provided before the tree. Jessica is whole, and we can be, too. Knowing we’re broken is the first step.
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