I've been wrestling lately with some young friends who are trying to understand God's sovereignty. It's that age-old question: If God is good and in control, WHY would He create a world, and people He loved, and even give them an opportunity to sin and to open the proverbial Pandora's box, letting destructive murderous sin into the world? How can a God who does that be called good?
"Mystery--how He came to be a man. But greater still, how His death was in His plan. God predestined that His Son would die, and He still created man. Oh what love is this? That His death was in His hands?" (Selah, "Mystery")
Suddenly I realized this morning that we're not seeing the complete picture when we ask this question. We only see a man and a woman in a beautiful garden, and an even more beautiful relationship with each other and with their God. If we only look to the separation from the simple life in the garden and the intimacy they knew, it does seem cruel that God even gave them a choice to sin. But what was God going through? He ALREADY knew what choice they would make! But more than that, He knew that with all the good things He had already given them, it was going to cost Him more! He would lose fellowship with His own precious creation for a long time! (Not to Him, I know--billions of years aren't that long compared to eternity) Moreover, He was laying His own son on the line--a part of Himself! He would be compromised in a way He had never allowed Himself to be before! He would have to watch the Holy One He loved more than any other suffer and die!
I've given gifts before that I was proud of because I knew "they'd keep on giving." I've passed over things because "they cost too much." I've received things that I knew I really didn't deserve. But wow! God watched Adam and Eve choose rebellion, and saw at the same time the unimaginable suffering it would cost HIM!!! Why would He do that?
You see, I realized that God didn't inflict suffering on us wantonly or with pleasure. He didn't simply want to humiliate us before His power or righteousness or control. The gift of life wasn't enough for Him to give. A stroll in the garden wasn't enough. He needed to give us all of Himself! He needed to have a relationship that showed the full extent of His love.
If a woman marries a rich man, and he puts her in a house filled with beautiful things, has dinner with her regularly, and takes her on luxurious vacations, will she be happy? We see often in Hollywood that even with all your basic needs met and many of your wants, a relationship devoid of intimacy and the mutual sacrificing of oneself is empty and meaningless. So knowing fully the cost of our sin--to us as well as to Himself--God gave us a choice to love Him, and at the same moment chose to love us even though we wouldn't love Him like He deserved. Several thousand years later, He loved us again, by giving us the true gift that "keeps on giving," the most costly gift, and the one with the most thought and planning put into it. The incarnate Jesus was tailor-made for us!