“Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying: ‘ Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.’ Then said I: ‘Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, I cannot speak, for I am a youth.’ But the LORD said to me: ‘Do not say, “’I am a youth,’” for you shall go to all to whom I send you, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of their faces, for I am with you to deliver you,’ says the LORD.” Jeremiah 1:4-8
Perhaps one of the greatest mysteries of our human existence is the wonder of the amazing harmony between God’s sovereignty and our personal choices. Of course much has been contested over this subject through the centuries. As noted above, Jeremiah was chosen to be a prophet to the nations long before he had any choice in the matter. Yet, Jeremiah had daily preferences and decisions in which he participated within his own volition. Now I don’t intend to solve this antinomy within a short blog. By the way, antinomy is a word that I think was made up to basically put a placeholder on this debate. Antinomy: “a contradiction between two statements, both apparently obtained by correct reasoning.” Two truths that apparently contradict each other but both are substantiated.
Scripture reveals that God is totally sovereign in all His interactions in human affairs. His power is unlimited. Therefore, we pray accordingly. But then again, we have moral choice and freedoms by which God’s providence is progressing through our lives. Akin to this is the whole subject of Theodicy (theos=God, dike=justice). If God is all loving and all-powerful, why does suffering exist? Theologians and philosophers have written profusely on this subject. And here is something for you to ponder as a potential resolve.
The above picture is a product in China that a missionary friend showed me. Now here is my question to you: “Why do wild Jews eat ear fungus in China?”
Different cultures have different dietary preferences. The cuisine of Asia is definitely different from Mexico. But then it’s hard to fathom a culture that markets ear fungus. What’s more, this product is actually a delicacy that is used to flavor soups and other palatable dishes. How are we to understand “Wild Jew’s-ear Fungus”? As you have probably already figured by now, it’s a translation problem. Actually a better translation of this product would be “Wild Israeli Mushrooms”. These special mushrooms originally imported from Israel happen to grow in the shape of an ear, hence, “ear shaped mushrooms.”
Maybe this is a round about way to address this subject, but it works for me. How is it that God reveals in His Word that He is totally sovereign over all of our choices, while at the same time Scripture discloses our human freedoms? Within the finite human mind there would be an apparent contradiction. How could two truths both be accurate but contradict each other? I believe it’s a translation problem. There are eternal truths within the infinite Mind of God that are very clear from within the eternal perspective. However, these don’t translate well into a finite closed system. I have great solace in concluding that God’s ways are higher than our ways, and that His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. “For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (I Corinthians 13:12-13) “Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” (1. John 3:2-3) Some day we will all see God face to face. We will know as we are known. At that moment, I believe all questions will be answered in the face-to-face reality of the presence of the Almighty God. When we see Him as He is, the infinite perspective will provide perfect clarity to all of our finite musings. What’s more, even the great challenge of suffering will be put into a proper perspective. Paul asserted, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:18)
So, the next time you seem to stumble over apparent mysteries of life that go beyond understanding, pause for a moment, look into someone’s ear to see if there is any fungus, and then have a bowl of soup. Chicken soup is always good for the soul, or so they say. And who are “they” anyway?