There is this thing about good and bad that is understood as black and white. But what if if is more complex than that? As parents, we instill in our children the difference between good and evil and right from wrong. The ability to discern between things are important for life. But at some point, we have to consider that it’s all good, even when it doesn’t appear so in our own eyes.
Growing up I’ve always held in the back of my mind, that the forces of good and evil are at work against each other equally. Even after becoming a Christian, I still held the idea of good and evil being equal. If God’s goodness reigns supreme, why doesn’t it seem that way. I had always resorted to the idea that we will lose certain battles but the war had already been won. But there’s a problem with this pattern of thinking, because it reinforced the same beliefs held under the old nature. If we are called to have a renewed mind, it would require us to have a new pattern of thinking.
You might recall the story of Joseph in the Old Testament who was betrayed by his brothers. They had plotted to kill him, all because he was a dreamer. However, One brother named Reuben wanted to rescue him and convinced the other brothers to not kill him, but to leave him in the pit instead. Meanwhile, the brothers went back to their father Jacob with his bloody robe with the report that he was devoured by an animal. Long story short, Joseph was sold into slavery and ended up ranking up to become the prime minister of Egypt. Famine had struck the land pretty bad and the brothers in Israel ended up being rescued by the very brother they betrayed. After all that Joseph had been through, he had every right to deny his brothers the help they needed. Instead, he said to them with a kind voice, ” But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive. Now therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones” (Genesis 50:20-21).
If you go back even further, you’ll find the story of Adam, Eve and the serpent in the garden. They were given everything to eat of accept for one tree, the tree of knowledge of good and evil. They were met by a serpent who tempted Eve to eat of the tree that was desirable to her eyes. After a back and forth conversation, they were given into this idea that they would become like God knowing good and evil. The result of this is two fold. Their one perspective that was pure and innocent had now become corrupted by dualism. They had been banished from the garden far from the tree of life to prevent them from being in this state forever.
What I’ve learned from these two narratives, is that I was still feasting on that old tree, even though we now have access to the tree of life. We no longer have to be double minded but of one sound mind. The mind that is enabled to transcend good and evil. To see just like Joseph. This trail of thinking helped me to stop blaming the devil for every thing bad that had happened to me. I found myself war-faring less and being more thankful in my trials.
This last year, had presented itself with some personal health concerns. It started out with an acute ringing in my ear. It sounded like construction was happening. Being that it was the peak of summer, it very well could have been except it never stopped. I thought it might have been the sound of someone pounding the ground but then it transpired to someone repeatedly playing loud bass music. Much of the symptoms I was experiencing seemed to fall under tinnitus. I felt like I was screwed, as there no cures for this diagnosis. My usual daily routine to listening to music, audio books and podcast were far from desirable. I realized how much I missed the silence. Fortunately, after about two weeks it had gone away on its own.
Fall comes around. I notice a bump in my front top gum line of my mouth. It was a minor irritant that I pushed it down towards the roots of my teeth in hopes it would dissipate. Instead, it awaken the worst abscess you could imagine. I don’t know if you’ve experienced mouth pain before, but it’s one of the worst feelings to have ever deal with. This pain was bad enough that I ended up going to the dentist to find out that I needed a root canal and that the next available date was three months from now. A few concerns came from this “bad” news. One this was to far out for me to deal with and upon doing my research, abscess can spread out to other areas of your head and can lead to death. So I was determined to do what I can to maintain with antibiotics, oils and prayer. A week goes by and I finally get a phone call about a root canal appointment that was just cancelled and if I wanted to take it, I had decide right then on the spot. So I left work early that day to get it done. I was relieved.
As much as it sucks, there is a necessary pain and discomfort that I believe is necessary in order to appreciate everything. Had I not gone through the constant ringing of the ear, I would not learned the gift of stillness and quietness. Had I not known the discomfort in my mouth, I would have not known the joys of a gentle voice or a smile. This I believe is the grace we are to behold, that is sufficient for every circumstance in life…good or bad. In the end, it is all good. Knowing this was a blessing.