Monday, March 15, 2010

Beautiful Antithesis

In my Great Books II class, we are studying Augustine's City of God. Although--I must confess--I sometimes find my thoughts wandering and my eyelids drooping while reading his lengthy [and wordy] work, there are some passages that make me clap hand to heart and read with breathless excitement.

"God would never have created any, I do not say angel, but even man, whose future wickedness He foreknew, unless He had equally known to what uses in behalf of the good He could turn him, thus embellishing the course of the ages, as it were an exquisite poem set off with antitheses...so the beauty of the course of this world is achieved by the opposition of contraries, arranged, as it were, by an eloquence not of words, but of things" (Augustine, City of God, page 361-2).

Struggle haunts every movement of humanity. Ever since the curse was spoken, it hangs darkly upon us, hardening the earth, injecting pain into childbirth. Yet this struggle--this fight of mankind--richly glorifies the power and dignity of the Lord. And it reminds that He is infinitely sovereign. Sovereign, and very much alive.

This world is not a clock that was set ticking, a clock that will eventually wind down and be forgotten. We are knit to our creator, and he is continuously weaving the tapestry. He has not become idle; he has not stopped creating. There are 353,015 births every day. 14, 709 babies are born each hour. 245 babies are born every minute of every day.* God is constantly creating, molding forming.

Not only is he creating, he's using. God is immanent: closely involved in our lives. All of the bad things that happen, he utilizes for his good purposes. Although we cannot understand it, everything is working for the good of those who love him. This pain is only the amplifier to eventual triumph.

It's a simple, painful, beautiful story, this story of life. And it's rendered all the lovelier by the pain that is so hideous in and of itself.

"For as the beauty of a picture is increased by well-managed shadows, so, to the eye that has skill to discern it, the universe is beautified even by sinners, though, considered by themselves, their deformity is a blemish" (Augstine, City of God, page 367).

Let us not miss the sunlight for the shadows.

*Worldwide Missions


  1. Thanks Tali! I enjoyed it tremendously! There is such a positive and beautiful aspect to even the curses on this world. As I shared in my Jr. High Sunday school class that by us experiences the curses and hardship of this world, we get to experience our internal condition. If we did not have these curses that we could see and experience, we would never know the inner reality of our depravity! The outward hardship actually matches our inner depravity, so we can better understand it and run to God because of it! There once was a missionary kid in a tribe. He was perfectly healthy and life was good. One day the boy just fell over, started foaming from the mouth, eyes rolled up and the parents had no idea what was going on! They had to take a several hour boat ride to get to a radio and the Doc told them he had a brain tumor. They rushed him to a hospital and found out it was HUGE! God did not let the depravity of this world be a brain tumor, he let it be a stomach ache. A brain tumor is a sickness that most likely won't be experience until it is too late, but God allows us to see and feel the depravity so we can get Him as our doctor! In light of eternity, the more we run to Him, the more we fulfill the purpose of our existence... which is a relationship. The curses, hardships, and tribulations let us outwardly experience our inner reality, so we can keep running to Him!!! In a marriage relationship, how often does a their relationship NOT grow when they are seeking to know and please their spouse? If there were no hardships in marriage, how would their relationship deepen? Without challenges, why would someone need to become more selfless? Oh, we serve a good God Tali! Sorry this is so lengthy but I REALLY enjoyed your thoughts!!! I pray God will continue to reveal himself to you through your study!!! Keep seeking Him out!!!


  2. Beautiful. Still difficult to believe when shadows darken your very breath, but the only Hope to claim: redemption.