I’d hate to be Ryan Gosling right now!
I better say it while I can. As one of Hollywood’s leading men, he’s got a pretty sweet thing going for himself. But yesterday’s craziness at the final presentation of the Academy Awards left me feeling pretty bad for the guy. Gosling had just gotten done watching Casey Affleck win Best Actor award, for which he had been nominated. Then, in an unbelievable turn of events, he went from seeing his La La Land named Best Picture to standing dumbfounded on stage while witnessing firsthand the worst blunder in Oscar’s history. Presenters were given the wrong card, read off the wrong movie, invited up the wrong cast and production crew, and the country watched in jaw-dropping amazement as stagehands darted across the stage, attempting to stop the producers of La La Land from diving into their acceptance speeches before the gaffe was fixed. Nothing was going right for poor Ryan!
We’ve all had those moments, haven’t we? (Perhaps not with the same number of witnesses, however.) Moments where it seems like nothing is going our way. Where it seems like everything is working against us. When life sucks. Moments where something outside ourselves hurts us, and the only thing you want to do is crawl into bed and hope to sleep for a week. What do you do when it seems like life hurts?
I’ve been studying the book of Job recently, and if there was ever someone who was having a bad day, it was this guy. Job was “blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil” (Job 1:1). But because of this, Job found himself in the middle of a cosmic battle, where Satan desired to use him as an object lesson on how man will reject God when he is stripped of good things. God allowed Satan to take Job’s wealth, health, and family. Yet Job chose to honor God, saying, “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” (Job 2:10)
His question, however, didn’t keep him from being incredibly depressed and heartbroken. The majority of the book details a conversation he had with a few of his friends, in which he lamented the day of his birth and wished he had never lived. The challenges he was facing felt insurmountable, and he called out to God in despair and pain. His heart was aching from the loss he had experienced, and he made his hurt and spiritual fatigue known.
In the end, after God responds to Job with a reminder of His might and sovereignty, the Lord restores him. He blesses him with greater wealth and a larger family than before the painful trials had begun. In the end, we see redemption of the excruciating agony and suffering Job endured.
As I read and study this, though, I have a hard time with the notion of God allowing for the enemy to bring such calamity into a person’s life. It goes against my notion of fairness and goodness, and brings up the question of “Why?” Why allow these things at all, God? Why not stamp out all of the evil, pain, and suffering BEFORE we have to endure it? Why do bad things happen to good people? A student I’ve been working with had a great job opportunity lined up prior to the current presidential administration’s policies took affect, and afterwards, the job offer was put on hold indefinitely. Why does God allow these difficult things to occur?
The answer to the question: “Why do bad things happen to good people?” is not one that falls to Christianity exclusively. Every single worldview must make sense of it and move forward. If someone chooses not to believe in God, they still have to answer this question. Random chance is the final result in a worldview denying God’s existence.
For the Christian, one has to understand that evil was not an original part of God’s plan. God originally created all things good. He also created heavenly and human beings with the dignity to choose to love Him or reject Him. He didn’t create robots who would automatically submit to His will. Evil, therefore, is the product of the choice to rebel against God. It started in the cosmic realm when Satan rejected God’s glory and wanted it for himself. When he was cast out of heaven, he brought it before mankind, which man swallowed. Hook, line, and sinker.
God has promised to make all things new again. One day, every wrong will be made right, and every tear will be wiped away. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away (Revelation 21:4). C.S. Lewis put it like this in his book, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe:
“Wrong will be right, when Aslan comes in sight,
At the sound of his roar, sorrows will be no more,
When he bares his teeth, winter meets its death,
And when he shakes his mane, we shall have spring again.”
Why did Ryan Gosling have to endure that awkwardly embarrassing event at the Oscars? Why did friends of ours recently experience a miscarriage? Why did a professor mark a paper up for no discernible reason when it seemed clear the correct answer was in the response? I don’t know. I really don’t know. And it sucks that it happened. And while God allowed for it to happen, I don’t think it was a part of the original plan. All of this pain is why Jesus had to die. He had to die for all of the brokenness, sin, evil, and death which has invaded our lives. Talk about Someone who had to endure something which wasn’t His fault!
As Christians, we serve a God beyond our understanding. And we serve a God who isn’t through putting evil away forever. Peter tells us why. “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance”(2 Peter 3:9).
In the meantime, as we continue to move through this up-and-down life, keep God’s promises before you. He’ll triumph over it all one day. He’ll make it all right. He’ll fix everything beyond what we can imagine, and we’ll worship Him forever.
In the meantime, watch The Notebook, and send Ryan Gosling some love!