by Phillip Yancey

Since the Fall in the Garden, the planet and all its inhabitants have been emitting a constant stream of low-frequency distress signals. We now live on a “groaning” planet. Thus, any discussion of the unfairness of suffering must begin with the fact that God is not pleased with the condition of the planet either. The story of the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, is the story of God’s plan to restore his creation to its original state of perfection.

The Bible begins and ends with the same scene: Paradise, a river, the luminous glory of God, and the Tree of Life. All of human history takes place somewhere between the first part of Genesis and the last part of Revelation, and everything in between comprises the struggle to regain what was lost. To judge God solely by the present world would be a tragic mistake. At one time, it may have been “the best of all possible worlds,” but surely it is not now. The Bible communicates no message with more certainty than God’s displeasure with the state of creation and the state of humanity.

Imagine this scenario: vandals break into a museum displaying works from Picasso’s Blue Period. Motivated by sheer destructiveness, they splash red paint all over the paintings and slash them with knives. It would be the height of unfairness to display these works — a mere sampling of Picasso’s creative genius, and spoiled at that — as representative of the artist. The same applies to God’s creation. God has already hung a “Condemned” sign above the earth, and has promised judgment and restoration. That this world spoiled by evil and suffering still exists at all is an example of God’s mercy, not his cruelty.

C. S. Lewis introduced the phrase “pain, the megaphone of God.” “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains,” he said; “it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”

from “Where Is God When It Hurts?” by Phillip Yancey

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