What does this redemptive curse entail? I think the better question would be to ask what it doesn’t involve? According to Deuteronomy 32 (the same text that spoke of God’s moral perfection), it’s all encompassing (see v. 23-27). Tornados, tsunamis, droughts, earthquakes, and famine, are all under His domain. Even the abuse, brutality, and criminality of the wicked (although make no mistake, they are responsible for their treacherous deeds), are used by God to accomplish His purposes (see Acts 2:23). It is all part of the surgical equipment He uses to operate on us in order to save our lives. Our Surgeon will spare no procedure; He will crack open ribs, perform a tracheotomy, use shock paddles, even amputate limbs. A lesser doctor would give up, but not ours.
Every instrument on His tray is meant to educate us about the repulsiveness of sin and our need for redemption. The pain and heartache we feel from these instruments of judgment is meant to be connected with man’s rebellion. Think of the priests and Levites under the old covenant performing the ritual sacrifices. Thousands of animals were slain and cut up by them in the most visible and visceral fashion. Israel was to connect the blood and body parts with the awfulness of sin and develop a holy hatred of it. In the same way, rather than see the calamities of life and just shrug our shoulders or feel beaten down by it all, we should connect them with God’s saving surgery upon the world.
He is in the operating room working to save humanity!
His work touches everyone. Since the garden, it is part of the human condition.
His work touches some more than others. All suffer, but some suffer more. If humanity were all one body (and in some ways it is), then some parts of the body receive the brunt of surgery. That this is true is undeniable, that it is a mystery why is also true. That God does have a purpose in it is worth holding on to.
The church isn’t exempt from this work. This should go without saying but it doesn’t. Our consumer culture, the false teaching of the gospel of health, wealth and prosperity, and other factors have blinded our eyes and blunted our hearts. How can we be exempt as humans from the human condition? How could we be exempt as Christians when we’re called to a cross? We’re called to be living sacrifices! God bless those who when suffering comes their way make no attempt to lay down their cross or get off the altar—they courageously bear it for Him. God bless those who give us an example of what it means to follow in His steps (1 Peter 2:21).
His work cannot be understood when individually isolated. “Why did that child die from cancer?” “Why were three people killed in the house fire?” “Why were three hundred killed in the tsunami?” To isolate any of these into a vacuum is to cut ourselves off from understanding. They happened because we let sin into the world. We veered off the road, crashed into the tree, and God is doing surgery. Suffering and death are not meaningless or senseless tragedies—they are being used by God to speak to us about sin and redemption.
The real question is: Are we listening?