Teeth and Mountains

“Consider what God has done: Who can straighten what he has made crooked? When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider: God has made the one as well as the other. Therefore, a man cannot discover anything about his future.” -Ecclesiastes 7:13-14 (NIV)

In my life, I have had extensive orthodontic work. Due to a dentally ruinous car wreck I suffered as a child, I have had brackets, braces, expanders, retainers, extractions, and even a couple surgeries. In spite of all of that, my bottom teeth are yet snaggled, I am one tooth shy of a full-mouth, and I have a backwards bicuspid.

The best efforts of money and man could not straighten my teeth. This realization led me to consider the mountains of the world; what would it take to make all the mountain chains on this blue planet line-up in a straight line? Hard to say, but I imagine that every bulldozer in the Caterpillar catalog wouldn’t even begin to make a dent in such an undertaking.

Some things, much as we may hate to admit it...simply are not meant to be. The above text from Ecclesiastes has a parallel in the New Testament, that I count among my favorite biblical texts: “He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” Is this a difficult pill to swallow? Can it be true that God allows/causes bad things to happen?

Absolutely...at least as far as we humans can see.

What makes some occurrence a “bad thing”? Surely it is the result(s) of whatever said occurrence is right? If I park my car close to a building, my walk is shorter. Behold! A good thing. If however, I were to park my car close to a building, and it slipped out of park and hit a child while I was away...well, that would be all measures be a bad thing. When a human declares that God does not exist, or that God is evil after a (series of) unfortunate events, what they are (theologically) doing is assuming that they know just as much as God, or at the very least, they assume that they are aware of what God’s ultimate goal(s) for the universe are. Those would be painfully proud claims coming from Socrates...let alone you or I.  Our vision as people is too often limited to focusing on the immediate bad, rather than the horizon of God's good.

Sometimes, we are in desperate need of divine binoculars.  Sometimes, things are not meant to be straight and neat. No matter how much one may work or wish otherwise, sometimes life will be crooked and craggy. Sometimes people will be incorrigibly cattywampus...but that’s okay, as there is indeed a God who can move people, for he has been moving mountains for millennia*.




*For more information on how, please reference any number of quality Earth Science textbooks; plate tectonics is a pretty fascinating bit of business.