I was outside playing with my kids. The sun was shining. Their laughter sounded like adventure and joy. It smelled like summer. My 2 year old ran up to me and said what I’m now convinced was “Zeke step on bug make paint”. OK? Interpreting toddler is more art than science. I simultaneously want her to talk that way forever because “awwww” and wish she’d grow out of because “what does that even mean?” Her older brother explained it. He squealed as he stomped on a big red bug and drug his shoe backwards. The bug literally popped. I heard it. It left behind a mixed streak of red, black, and concupiscence on the sidewalk.
1) the inclination to sin.
2) an inherited disease and original vice that leaves streaks of “paint” on the sidewalk.
It was jarring. This is the sweet boy I tuck in at night. His heart is bigger than his eyes, wide with wonder. Pop. This sweet boy destroyed something alive to make paint out of bug guts because playing baseball got boring. It wasn’t that I started sleeping with one eye open just in case he decided to “paint” with daddy. It was cruel, but it was just a bug. I got over it and we got back to playing. It was just a bug to me too. What bothers me isn’t the paint. I, a poor miserable sinner, made the same discovery with lightning bugs 30 years ago. The paint glowed in the dark. Bugs live longer when bored kids don’t notice them. The thing that bugs me (sorry, had to) is the notion that we must look about that size to God. What are we to The divine? Pop.
Sometimes a God who causes the kinds of things we go through doesn’t seem so different from a kid holding a magnifying glass over an anthill because it’s slightly more entertaining than daytime TV. What really seals it is how creative He is. It just seems cruel. We don’t just get a rolled up newspaper for crossing into His line of sight, we get small cell cancer. We get to bury our own children. We get to languish for months and years, praying all the while for help, and wondering why God is doing this to us. We suffer.
What are we to the divine? Or more honestly, what is the divine to us? His thoughts are not our thoughts. His ways are not our ways. So when I try to figure out why His anthill is on fire, I fill in what I don’t understand with the things I think I do. Myself. What would I do to bugs? Pop. It doesn’t work though. Even though I sleep like a baby after painting with lighting bugs when I’m bored, I’d never make myself a bug to be squashed. That’s exactly what He did.
It has been testified somewhere, “What is man, that you are mindful of him, or the son of man, that you care for him?” You made him for a little while lower than the angels; you have crowned him with glory and honor, putting everything in subjection under his feet.” Now in putting everything in subjection to him, he left nothing outside his control. At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him. But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering. Hebrews 2:6-10
What are we to the divine? Something so precious He would make Himself like us. God became man to bear all the evil we do to each other and to Him. All the cruelty that exists not in Him but in us. I am the cruelty that can disregard anything I believe to be different or smaller or insignificant. We are the cruelty that can sleep soundly after committing atrocities because we’re convinced they aren’t big enough to matter. Ours is the desire to be bigger, but God became smaller to save us. God became man to bear our suffer for us. He made Himself to live in His own anthill, to suffer all the fires and pains and deaths on a cross. This is how He brings us through suffering to glory. He swallowed our death. God isn’t a kid with an anthill because He has compassion enough to save us by bearing the heat Himself. The anthill is on fire. Christians don’t deny that. Our sin breaks stuff. So God, in mercy, comes down to live in His own burning anthill to rescue and save.
Look to the cross of Christ and there you’ll start to see it. This is where Jesus is crowned with glory and honor. He won everything promised. Hope. Life. Salvation. This is a cruel world, but God won’t be far from it. He’ll be the one holding it up by bearing the weight of sin on His own shoulders. He’ll be the one who makes us perfect through His suffering. He’ll be the one baptizing sinners and raising them up on the last day free from cruelty, sin, and death.