*** Warning *** I am not a theologian. I have no theology degree, training, have taken no theology classes. I make no claims as to the theological validity of my post.
This morning, as I sat holding my sleeping 1 year old, having struggled for several days through a mire of ugly darkness stealing all my joy, I was suddenly blessed with a new understanding of the darkness and pain in this world.
I have had my children ask, have asked myself actually, “Why did God give Adam and Eve a choice? Why did He allow them to choose sin?”
I have heard many good and insightful messages on this topic. Explanations that we cannot fully love without choice, that without choosing to love we aren’t really loving, etc. Those are great messages and great reasons. I will not attempt to recreate those messages, as I would not do them justice. But today I realized another reason, or perhaps more of a byproduct.
I like chocolate. I like ice cream. I really like chocolate ice cream. I like broccoli, too. But broccoli is NOT ice cream. I do not like fish (except tuna salad and there is a case to be made that that isn’t really much in the way of fish). I wonder what life would be like if fish, broccoli, potatoes, mushrooms, carrots, and the like all tasted like chocolate ice cream? Would we enjoy ice cream so much?
I wonder, could we enjoy with quite the same depth of joy the birth of a new child without having experienced the loss of a grandparent (uncle, parent, friend)? Could we find the depth of joy in life without the contrast of the sorrow? Would we appreciate the smile of a 4 year old if we didn’t know they would end?
I realized that with parenting, life is a paradox of joy and pain. I know without a doubt that I enjoy my younger two in their young years more than I did the older two. Why? Because of the ache of seeing them too old to giggle maniacally when I tickle under their chin. There are new joys that come with each age and stage, but they are a sharp contrast to the ache that you feel realizing that the new phase necessarily requires the loss of an old one.
I believe that because of death and pain, we more fully have the opportunity to embrace love and joy. I do not believe that we could really have the fullness of the joy God intends for us without the sadness that came into the world with sin.
I’m not saying that God could not have found a way in a perfect world for us to fully enjoy an ice cream flavored world. I know that He has done so in Heaven. But I believe that one of His blessings in this world is this schism between dark and light, grief and joy, pain and happiness, death and new life.