Set the Scene
Shakespeare is recorded to have said, “All the world’s a stage.” I don’t usually look at the world like that, but (for the context of this post) think of this world as a stage. I was in a school play in high school. Just as a little background, I was the quiet girl in the school that didn’t actually talk to many people and spent most of my time obsessing over grades and avoiding group situations. I’m assuming this is the reason I was cast as the murderer in a mystery play, considering no one would have predicted it to be me. As with everything on stage, the best acting is simply reacting to the events of a play.
In our lives that is what we do. Things happen, we react, and hopefully we move on. At times good things happen, but we all know how bad things can get. All of that is in God’s will, and He may not always be happy with what happens because we are living in a sinful, cursed world affected by our sin natures, but He allows it and is ultimately in control.
Ethically speaking, talking about God’s control can be touchy. I’m sure you have talked to people before who are in the middle of reacting to pain, and all they can say is, “Why?” Why did God allow my child to die before me? Why did God allow that many people to die in a terrorist attack? Why did God allow me to be born into an abusive environment?
Life is hard. As I’ve gotten older, I have wondered why different people experiencing the same type of struggles can have completely different reactions, or even how the same person can react to the same struggle completely differently later in life.
Just like on a stage, the context/setting of the scene will change how the actors will respond to the event. It also changes the audience’s understanding of what is going on. For instance say the scene on the stage is a man dying in the arms of his young, pregnant wife.
Scenario 1: The backdrop to the scene is a dark prison with bars everywhere, and the explained context of the play is that the wife went in to say goodbye to her husband who was dying in prison after injuries that he sustained from being stopped from killing kids in a school shoot out.
Scenario 2: The backdrop is a hospital, and the explained context of the play is that he was rushed to the hospital with his wife by his side after taking a round of fire in his chest, successfully stopping a shooter from entering the elementary school where his pregnant wife teaches.
Both are sad, both have a man die in the arms of his pregnant wife, yet the backdrop and context of the play evoke a completely different reaction from the actors and onlookers. Ultimately, the same event happens, yet they are completely different circumstances.
Now lets switch off the stage and back to real life. If we put as the backdrop to our lives things like perfection, happiness, success, fame, etc., then the way we react to painful circumstances is going to have us feeling like victims, persecuted, or needing to find a way of escape. But, if we put as the backdrop to our lives the cross, Christ dying on a tree to take our sin, our rebellion ultimately covered in grace as Jesus died to appease God’s wrath, then what will our reactions be? Instead of feeling like victims with God angrily waiting to squash us, we will react in thankfulness that God has made a victorious way out of this cursed world. He loved us enough to let His Son take our sin so when these horrible things happen on earth, we are still ultimately offered an eternity with no tears, sitting as the bride of Christ on our wedding day.
The way to fight the evilness in this world is not by turning on God in self-righteous indignation, but rather by sharing the cross with others. Nothing will change our reactions until we can see the reality of what God has done for us. Keep looking past the moment of pain to the cross, and then, whether life is going good or bad, you will only see grace.