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So...I was thinking last night (could be a dangerous thing...me thinking) about why we suffer. That got me thinking about why, if God knows everything, did he create satan? I mean, if he knew that he was going to screw everything up, why didn't God just skip it? Then there would have been no "fall", no sin, no sacrifice of his son, and perfection everywhere.But he did it anyway. I kind of imagine him creating lucifer like God spinning him out of light with tears in his eyes and heaviness of heart. He knew exactly what he was doing. He knew the temptation that was going to occur in the garden, and what the results would be. He knew that sin would enter his perfect world, and ruin everything. And I am sure it broke his heart knowing that he would have to sacrifice his son to redeem his creation.So why did he do it? He could have just decided to eliminate the problem before it began. That would have secured the eternal perfection and uninterrupted relationship with him forever. Is sin what he wanted for us? Did he revel in the notion that we would have to scrape and struggle to make a life on the earth without his presence? I think NOT!As I pondered this, God showed me that he had a specific purpose in our struggle. He knew exactly what he was doing and chose it because he wanted to prove his love for us. Think about that a moment. Let it wash over you and sink in for a moment. God went ahead and created satan so he could prove his love for us. He let him run with the distruction of the beautiful world he created and let him reak havoc with our lives because He knew WE would need proof of the depth of his great love for us. Proof that included the life and death of his only son. He knew we would not choose to love him if he did prove his love for us first. It would have been indentured servitude. Blind obedience. Not Adoration and unbridled, grateful LOVE.I imagine God, Jesus and the Spirit discussing the matter before creation. Would it be worth it? Some would choose not to believe; not to return to the God who sacrificed everything for them. But some would realize the truth and turn in gratefulness and embrace him with more than everything. Some would struggle and never see their hardships as anything other than horrible and deny his very existance. They would shake their fists and harden their hearts, turning away in disgust; blaming God and never seeing the true cause and greater purpose in their pain.But some, realizing there is nowhere else to go, would turn their face toward heaven and cry out, "You alone are God! Deliver me from myself! I am tired of doing it my way. Though my situation may not change, I will recieve your love and return to you. Open your arms for me and let me be held in them. " And that changes everything.
As I look at my Jasmine vine in my garden, and read Psalm 85, I think of a parallel-- Israel, God's chosen ones had gone astray. They had wandered from God. They had once again stumbled in their own way and followed their own choices down a weary, well-worn path of sin. David cries out on behalf of his people: 5. "Will you be angry with us always? Will you prolong your wrath to all generations? 6. Won't you revive us again, so your people can rejoice in you?" My jasmine, if left to itself will wander around; it is not a well-trained vine. It grows every which way and looks very scraggly. It can actually do itself and other plants around it harm when it trails off. It can starve itself and strangle other plants in the process with its wild runners. My job, as the gardener is to train it and cut off anything I deem as harmful. I think, we here in America have gotten a warped view of God. We view him as a power hungry overlord ready to dole out rules and restrictions just because he wants us under his thumb of authority. If we would get back to the point where we realize that he loves us and that we need his ways to keep us from harming ourselves and others, then we could once again enjoy the freedom of Gods' love and blessing. If my jasmine vine got angry when I pruned it and refused to let me train it onto the tree where it is growing, I would have to pull it up and burn it. What is Gods' choice with us? We must turn as Israel did and cry our to him, submit ourselves to his care and allow him to prune and shape us. We should remember that he loves his creation and knows how to care for it best, and love him with all our hearts in response. 8."I listen carefully to what God the LORD is saying, for he speaks peace to the faithful. But let them not return to their foolish ways. Surely his salvation is near to those who fear him, So our land will be filled with his glory."