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Creative Suffering

Today, a friend posted this quote from the book Don’t Blame God- A Biblical Answer to the Problem of Evil, Sin, and Suffering by John W. Schoenheit, Mark H. Graeser, John A. Lynn

In the early days of television in the USA, a children’s show featured an artist whose creativity was astounding, and illustrative of God’s resourcefulness. This artist would sit beside an easel with a large pad of white paper. Randomly he would hand a piece of charcoal to one of the children and have him make any sort of scribble he wanted. He would then ask the children what they would like him to make out of the scribble. It might be an animal, a clown, or anything that appealed to the children’s imagination or seemed to pose a big challenge to the artist’s skill. The artist then went to work transforming the scribble into the requested image with amazing ease and skill. It didn’t seem to matter what the scribble looked like or what he was asked to make out of it—he could do it.

We must see God in a similar light, and appreciate His creative genius. He can take any set of circumstances and, with a few master strokes of grace and mercy, bring a new picture into view, one that shows His love and will. There is nothing that Satan and sin can introduce into our lives that God cannot transform into something that will glorify Him. There is one important difference between the artist and God, however. The artist took the charcoal from the child and drew the picture himself. God works with us to guide us as we and He draw the picture together. He asks us to work together with Him to achieve His will—by praying, trusting Him, obeying Him, and speaking His Word. As the English proverb well expresses it: “God supplies the milk, we bring the pail.” Richard Rice points out that such thinking may seem to some as though it compromises God’s “sovereignty,” and leaves Him at the mercy of what people do. He then gives two ways to answer this objection. In the first place, God has voluntarily limited His sovereignty over the world in order to leave us free to choose. When He created morally free beings, He, in effect, shared with them the power to determine what course history would take. So whatever limits there are to God’s power, they are limits which He voluntarily set when He decided to create the kind of world He made. In the second place, the ability to respond creatively to events as they happen, so that they contribute to His purposes, takes, if anything, a higher kind of power than the ability to plan to the last detail everything that happens.

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