Maybe it’s just me, or the way God gets through to me, but I find that when he really wants to drive a point home, he puts the same few verses in my life in different places. They keep popping up, as if some literary motif in life’s narrative. The Author knows what he’s doing but the characters don’t.
Last week we were visiting yet another little church in here in Argentina and my supervisor Kevin was speaking there. As part of his message, he read aloud the passage in Mark 5, where Jesus heals a demon possessed man. I had just read the same story the day before, in which Jesus drives the Legion out of a man, allowing the demons to enter a herd of pigs. The two thousand pigs then rush into a lake and drown.
Initially I read through the familiar story, glossed over the details and moved on. To me, this story has always been a little peculiar. Why would Jesus answer the request of demons at the expense of some poor guy who owned the pigs? Why couldn’t he just tell the demons not to go into the pigs?
That second time I read it, I couldn’t ignore this nagging question. I went back and read it a third time.
“The herdsmen fled and told it in the city and in the country. And people came to see what it was that had happened.” Mark 5:14
He could have simply healed the man. But his decision to use the pigs brought others into the story, brought others close to him, gave others the chance to meet him and know him and follow him. Whether that owner knew it or not, the best day of his life was the day he lost those 2000 pigs. Forget the pigs. He got to meet JESUS, the savior of the world, God in the flesh.
And here I was, thinking it was an unfortunate incident for this poor pig owner and his herdsmen. But, well, that’s usually how the characters feel, all short-sighted in perspective and unaware of the ending.
God causes stuff to happen, bad stuff in our eyes, so that it can bring us face to face with him. But the truth is, God is wholly good and all of his works are good. If I really, really believe this, and I really, truly believe that he is in control, then that means everything that happens, everything, is good. It’s all good. We just tend to have a very short-sighted perspective on goodness.
He let those demons enter that man. He let them kill the pigs. Even the demons are unknowingly accomplishing the will of the Lord. What a clever author!
God is faithful and he is good and he wants the best for us. I’m learning to thank God for everything he gives me and accept that his idea of goodness is better than mine. This is a lesson I’ve learned and forgotten and relearned many times now.
In one of his live shows, Jason Mraz mentioned the human tendency to forget. He says “It’s something about our humanness. We forget. We remember, we forget. We remember . . . we forget. And I think it’s for the opportunity for enlightenment, the opportunity to awaken again. We forget because it feels good to remember.”
I think he hits the nail on the head. It feels good to remember, to rediscover the goodness of God, to remember his faithfulness. But I don’t want to just remember and rediscover his goodness in the easy days like the ones I’m passing through now. God’s provision is obvious right now: He has brought me here to Buenos Aires and is providing me with some great friends and is providing opportunities for ministry . . . It’s all pretty peachy. But I’m not so naïve to believe that days like these last forever. Hard times come and go. And the next time they come, I hope to remember this truth:
The Author is good. And he has good things for me. And goodness is all a matter of perspective. In reality . . . it’s all good.