If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you know that I became extremely angry with God after Cindy passed away. I started questioning a lifetime of faith. I questioned if God couldn’t heal Cindy or had He simply chosen not to. In my mind, the first option meant that He was impotent; the second showed Him as cruel.
It’s funny, but I never seriously doubted the existence of God, only His motives, and abilities.
I also kept questioning why Cindy had to die. In fact, why does anyone have to die… ever? Of course, I know what the Bible says on the subject. It is quite clear from scripture that “The wages of sin is death…”(Romans 6:23) Of course, in my hurt and anger, I didn’t bother to read the second half of the verse that tells us that “the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” All I could see, back then, was the death part. The eternal life part escaped me.
The knowledge that physical death entered the world when man fell into sin was little comfort to me. In fact, it was of no comfort at all. It just lead to snarky questions that raced through my mind day and night.”You mean we’re still paying for Adam and Eve’s sin?” “Where was God’s forgiveness then?” “Couldn’t he wipe the slate clean and start anew?”
WHY DID HE PUT THE FORBIDDEN FRUIT IN THE GARDEN?
16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” – Genesis 2:16-17
The more I thought about it, the angrier I became. I just couldn’t understand why a supposedly all-knowing God would be foolish enough to create naive humans, who had no knowledge of good and evil and then put the one thing that could introduce spiritual and physical death into the world. To me, that was foolish at best and downright abusive at worst. It was like putting a toddler in a room full of sharp knives and loaded handguns and saying, “OK, Jimmy, don’t touch.” If parents did something like that they would be labeled negligent and the children would be whisked away to foster care faster than you can say “Bob’s your uncle.” If it isn’t appropriate for us flawed mortals to do, why was such negligence acceptable for the omnipotent creator of the universe?
The more I asked myself these questions, the angrier I became. One day, when I could stand it no more, I took the questions to the one person I trusted to confide in and whom I had a reasonable hope of getting a straight answer from. I called my dear friend and pastor Reverend Patrick Malone.
Throughout the time I’ve known him, I’ve always been able to trust Pastor Malone with my deepest secrets and my biggest hurts. He has always been willing to talk with me with compassion and patience and without a hint of judgment. This conversation, however, was unlike any we had ever had before or, I’m happy to say, since.
From the time Pastor Malone answered the phone, I was on a roll. I told him my concerns and asked him how God could have been so foolish as to allow two knuckleheads like Adam and Eve to be anywhere near the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and why did he have to put it in the garden in the first place. Did He want Adam and Eve to fail? Does He like seeing us in pain and suffering? I was firing acid-dipped questions at a mile a minute, but my beloved pastor never lost his cool. He just waited until I got it all out of my system.
At one point, when I asked about the wisdom of placing the forbidden tree in the garden, Pastor Malone asked, “Where would you have had Him put it? Outside the garden?”
“Yes,” I screamed into the phone. “That’s exactly where he should have put it!
Once I had cooled off enough to listen to him a little bit, we spent the next hour talking through scripture and talking about life.
BECAUSE HE HAD TO!
Pastor Malone lovingly and patiently explained that God couldn’t do that. He had to put the forbidden tree in the garden. God created man with free will and that only exists where there are choices. There can be no good without the opportunity for evil. There can be no love without the opportunity for hate. And there can be no righteousness without the opportunity for sin.
Although I knew he was right, I really didn’t want to hear that right then. Like a petulant child, I wasn’t done being angry yet. I quickly created an excuse and got off the phone. Instead of feeling better, I felt worse. Now, not only was I feeling angry, but I felt unjustified in feeling angry. It was quite a quandary I found myself in.
Through prayer, and study of the Bible, I came to see my pastor’s points as valid. One passage that sticks with me is Joshua 24:15:
But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”
Over and over, the Bible is full of passages that show that man has been given the opportunity to make choices. Those choices come with consequences. Even if we are forgiven by God, the natural consequences remain. If a man sets fire to his business to collect the insurance money, the building is still gone even if the governor issues him a full pardon. So is it with sin and physical death.
The more I thought about it, the more I came to realize those same natural repercussions must apply to Adam and Eve as well as to all others. Without their original sin, evil and death would never have entered the world, but neither would the chance to recognize true goodness and grace. Without the options of hate or indifference, the sweet, lovely, and abiding love that Cindy and I shared could never have existed.
Yes, God, who sees the end from the beginning, knew that man would fall, but He also planned for it. By His love, grace, and mercy, He has made provision for those who love Him and trust Him and put their faith in Christ Jesus. It is because of this love and grace that I am assured that, one day, I will again be reunited with my beloved Cindy and, from that day on, we will never again have to part.