[Why Bad Things Still Happen]
I was weeding my garden (the never-ending task) a week or so ago, engrossed in the fact that my weed harvest was going to be an on-going supply all summer long (if only the things I planted thrived so well!) when I had a small epiphany:
And what did that remind me of?
24 Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; 25 but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. 26 But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared. 27 So the servants of the owner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’ 28 He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants said to him, ‘Do you want us then to go and gather them up?’ 29 But he said, ‘No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.”’” – Matthew 13:24-30
On just a side note, I love that question, “Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field?” Like ‘Uh, yeah – of course I did – an enemy did this.’ God is still good.
Now, I don’t know much about wheat, but when plants are as small as mine are, if you aren’t very careful pulling weeds around them, you’re gonna pull up or damage the roots of the very plants you’re trying to cultivate – imagine the trouble even more-so in a field of wheat; there are no rows or spaces, just wheat and weeds as close as grass.
I’ve heard that parable over and over all my life. I’ve also heard people rail on and on with endless reasoning why bad things happen, and that argument in my experience generally comes down to the reasoning that God somehow can’t or won’t interfere with the world–that freedom of choice or divine justice or some other part of his otherwise flawless character keeps him from stopping bad things happening to good people.
But I’ve never heard them both in the same argument; the matter is much simpler. The fact is, there’s bad in the world; it isn’t what God intended for us. There are tares mixed with the wheat.
I used to think of the tares and wheat solely to represent people, but I hold a view a little less narrow now. It’s a minor detail but I say this because I don’t believe that peoples’ destinies are nearly as set as the destinies of weeds – Jesus changes people. In this context I think of tares simply as general evil–sin–in the world.
So you want to know why bad things still happen to good people? Because there are still weeds out there. They’re so ingrained into this world and the people that if God were to uproot all sin the whole place would be overturned. Bad things are still allowed not because God is weak or his hands are tied by our personal choices but because the final purge of sin will mean the destruction of everything and including any chance for anyone else to be changed by what Jesus did. So until the end when the harvest is at it’s ripest and the wheat can be sorted out of the mess, we’re going to have to grow around the tares.
And the best part? This is the nature of the Kingdom of Heaven; God isn’t just about annihilation – the flood wasn’t his modus operandi – he’s about saving every. last. one. that can be saved and restored to the Kingdom. Awesome. And that’s the Kingdom we belong to.