Views & Reviews
Then Shall We Know in Full
My dear friends, as I prepare this short message, I think of many people in many different situations. Your situation may not be exactly the same as that of another person, but we all are going through some sort of situation. We may be in different boats and islands, but surely we all are marooned in the same ocean of loneliness.
Even as I share this thought now, I know some of you are undergoing treatment for your ailment in hospitals. Some are going through the required period of confinement in government and community managed quarantine centers. Still others who go about their daily activities in the field and offices have their own share of suffering and struggle. No one is immune to suffering. The question is, why is there so much evil in the world if God is a good God? Where is God when it hurts? Does God care?
Asking question is a very normal and healthy sign of a developing personality. The kind of question a person asks is indicative of the level of his mental maturity. As a child explores and discovers his immediate surroundings, the first question he asks is “what.” “What” is a question that concerns with recognition of an unknown object. After the child has identified and named the unknown entity, he moves on to his next question and asks “how.” “How” is a scientific question that deals with the methods and procedures of operation. The third question a child asks is “why.” “Why” is a philosophical and spiritual enquiry that concerns with the purpose of life and all that exist. In addition to the “what,” “how,” and “why” questions of life, the thinking mind of the free being has the propensity to ask “why not.” To the injunction that Adam and Eve should not eat one fruit in particular, the serpent questions God and asks “why not.” More often than not, the “why not” questions are asked today more and more by people with a rebellious attitude.
It is important that we learn to ask questions, but it is necessary that we ask the right questions. Friedrich Nietzsche, the famous German philosopher once said, “He who has a “why” to live for can bear almost any “how.” Asking the right question is one thing but finding the right answer is quite another. There are many questions that human beings have answered, but there are many other questions which remain unanswered for the simple reason that they are not easy to come by.
The most important questions of life are asked during the most crucial moments. Sickness, dead of loved ones, failure, disappointments, depression, loneliness and the like are such crucial moments when we raise crucial questions. When we consider a series of big questions that we ask during the most trying moment, they are not really about “what” and “how,” but about “why.” Why do we exist? Why are we here? We keep asking why, why, why and the right answer seems to evade us as ever.
We have to admit that there are no easy answers to the hard questions of life. At best what we can do to help one another as fellow humans in our common search for meaning is to point to the ultimate source. As a pointer, here is a story that illustrates this great truth.
A certain hunter had just spotted a waterhole in the forest which was frequented by thirsty wild animals. So he climbs up a nearby tree and positions himself comfortably on a branch, hiding in the thick foliage, right above the waterhole. With his gun fully loaded and his finger on the trigger, he expectantly waits for the prey to appear near the water source. After a while, he hears the sound of rushing animals foraging for food in the bush. As he looks intently, it is not a wild animal, but a man. He appears as though he is running for his life. The hunter holds his breathe and observes the man up from his hideout. On seeing the small body of water, the man on the ground takes a quick sip and gets up to his feet. But just before he disappears into the woods, a big roll of money falls off from his pocket.
Not long after the man left the spot, another man came running from the same direction. As he sees the money on the ground, he immediately picks up and goes away, breathing a sigh of relief. After a little while, another man comes running to the same spot. But before he is able to get away from the scene, a man with a gun comes and shoots him and he dies on the spot. The gunman drags the dead body away as he leaves the place.
The hunter gets so disturbed by what he has seen. Being a witness of the injustice perpetrated by some people against others and the apparent silence of God, the hunter asks why God allows evil and injustice to prevail in the world. That night God appears to him in his dream. God asks the hunter whether he knows who the four people are, where they have come from and where they are headed. While the hunter has drawn his conclusion and passed judgment based on the brief observation about the activity of the four persons, God knows who they are, where they are from and where they are headed. God’s conclusive answer takes into account the activity as well as the motive of each person from eternity to eternity. In the end the hunter realises that God’s perspective is not only very high but also very wide.
We shall look at this story and see how it can be interpreted from two different perspectives: the perspective of the man up on the tree and the perspective of God up in heaven. The first perspective is the perspective of man and his view is representative of the entire human race. The second is the perspective of God.
According to the hunter:
1. The first person is an unlucky man. In his hurry to go home, he has accidentally dropped his hard-earned money in the forest.
2. The second person is a thief. He has taken somebody’s money away.
3. The third person is a very unfortunate man. For no obvious reason, he is shot dead.
4. The fourth person is a murderer. He has shot an innocent man.
These are the interpretations of man. Now let us listen to what God has to say.
According to God:
1. The first person is a robber. He has robbed someone and is running away with the money.
2. The second person is a victim. He has been robbed and so is running after the robber to get his money back.
3. The third person is a murderer. He has murdered someone and is trying to get away from the police.
4. The fourth person is a policeman. He is running after a murderer to bring him to justice.
Having listened to both sides of the story, what is the ultimate truth?
1. The first person, the hunter considers innocent, is actually a robber. He acquires money without effort and loses without effort. Easy come, easy go.
2. The second person who is thought to have picked somebody’s money is actually the owner. He has found his lost money.
3. The third person who is shot dead is a murderer so he gets what he deserves.
4. The hunter thinks that the fourth man is a murderer, but as a law enforcing personnel, the policeman has delivered justice by performing his duty.
Now that the score is finally settled, we know whose answer is right and whose is wrong. The hunter is right in his own eyes. But his eyes can see only as far as his vision goes. Based on the limited information his physical sense could gather, the hunter has drawn his own conclusion. But when we look at the dramatic turn of events from the perspective of God, the hunter’s conclusion is wrong and his feeling of anger based on faulty reasoning is unwarranted.
Like the hunter in this story, in our desperation, how often we jump into hasty conclusion and then regret the next moment! Proverbs 16: 24 says, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.” Again Isaiah 10: 8, 9 says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
In our situation like today, when heaven seems silent and there appears to be no solution coming from anywhere, what are we supposed to do. Should we lose our patience and turn away from God. Unable to stand her husband’s condition, Job’s wife did the unthinkable by advising her husband to curse God and die. In life some days are better than others, but in all situations we can find our peace in God. Nothing can be more assuring than to know that the creator of this huge universe knows you and cares about you. While much more can be said about the sovereignty of God, the end of the matter is that God loves us just as we are. Let us listen to the word of God found in 2 Corinthians 17: 9-10: “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insult, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.
May the grace of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior; the love of God, the Father; and the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit, our Comforter, be with all of you, especially with the ailing and those caring the ailing, now and forever. Amen.
A Homily by Rev. Rümatho Nyusou