Sunday, February 17, 2013

Of Mice and Men

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

-- John 16:33  
"The best laid plans of mice and men often go astray," wrote Scottish poet Robert Burns. And he was right. No matter how well we prepare, "stuff happens." And when it does, it can lead to disappointment. Just ask the Apple executives about their disastrous application ("app") known as Apple Maps.

Replacing Google Maps on Apple's much-anticipated iOS 6 operating system, Apple Maps was expected to be yet another useful feature on the wildly-popular iPhone and other devices. Instead, Apple Maps rapidly disappointed its users with a variety of remarkable glitches. For example, the app's 3D "flyover" feature displayed grotesquely distorted images of well-known landmarks. Apple Maps also offered wrong locations for well-known addresses. And famous monuments--even entire cities--seemingly evaporated from existence.
Apple Logo

It's safe to say that just about everyone who's ever walked this planet has wondered why God allows life's disappointments. We reason that if He's all-powerful, He could and should) prevent them. But consider that God's mysteries extend far beyond the human experience and into the wonders of nature. For instance, how can an awkward caterpillar gorge itself with leaves, spin a cocoon around itself and later emerge as a beautiful butterfly? And how can a tiny acorn grow into a mighty 80-foot oak?

The principle here is the same. Whether the unexplainable involves a tragedy or creation, we must remind ourselves that God's ways aren't our ways. Our human minds are much too limited to grasp the entirety of His greater purposes.

Our perspective is limited. But we're not totally in the dark here. God's word to us--the Bible--gives us several clues. First, we live in an imperfect world where bad things can happen. Ever since Adam and Eve first disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden, perfection on Earth has been spoiled. And this was soon followed by the first murder: a cold-blooded attack on one family member by another.

Have things really changed since then?

Our own bad choices are another reason for disappointment, pain and suffering. For example, if someone chooses to get drunk and then gets behind the wheel, tragedy often follows. But that's hardly God's fault. We instead reap from the foolishness we sow.

As depressing as this all may be, remember that we worship a God who specializes in turning seemingly bad situations into remarkable endings. Consider someone who gets laid off from a job, only to find a much better one in a different city--and with better pay--in an industry he or she had never previously considered. If it weren't for the "tragedy" of unemployment, he or she might have become stuck in a boring, dead end job with no future. God (as always) know bests!

Finally, God often turns disappointment into a tool for good by using it to discipline and mature us. Are we ever the same after experiencing a major illness or family tragedy? It's through adversity that we draw closer to God and depend on His help. And He can even use our suffering as a witness to others. If you're a Christ-follower faced with a God-sized situation, where you place your faith speak volumes to others.

Yes, our lives can be filled with heartache. But God never promised us a pain-free existence. In fact, Jesus told His disciples to expect trouble. But let's take comfort that we worship a "Big Picture" God--One who sees beyond our limited scope to turn even the greatest disappointments into the greater good. 

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