“Did God actually say…?”
– The Serpent, Genesis 3:1
And here began mankind’s never-ending search for happiness, truth, beauty, and answers. This whole ordeal is incredibly ironic seeing as how every longing that this question produced in the human heart literally walked toward them, incarnate, in the cool of the garden (Genesis 3:8), but instead of recognizing the Happiness, the Truth, the Beauty, and the Answers for Who they were, they considered the Light as exposing rather than liberating. And they hid—hid behind the trees that were intended to shield them from harm, not from Good. The Creature placed creation between themselves and their Creator to shield them from the very thing they didn’t know they wanted most. Ironic indeed.
That’s how doubt seems to function, in a very ironic way. The core of all doubt stems from that ancient question: “Did God actually say…?” The question causes us to consider the trustworthiness of God but it compels us to do so not by looking to Him but to ourselves. Indeed, turning our focus inward was a key part of the Tempter’s plan, promising that by forging our own way we could “become like God” (Genesis 3:5). And trying to live up to this Title, mankind has been marching ahead, blazing a trail through life of its own design but saying that it is actually God’s. “Be true to yourself.” “You do you.” “Put yourself first.” And so like Qoeleth we give ourselves to a thousand pursuits, drinking in everything under the sun thinking that’s how we’ll find God. “Nope, that didn’t work. Not this. Maybe that.” In our restless confusion, we keep placing creation between us and the Creator. Doubt about God has caused us, ironically, to try and find God in everything.
But it’s when our plans fail to prove themselves divine that we begin to ask that question again but with a lowercase g: “Did god actually say…?” We all have questions we want answers to: “Why am I here?”, “How can I be happy?”, “Does my life mean anything?”, “Is it possible to be happy, know truth, see beauty, and find answers?”
The answer to that question is “yes”, God really did say that happiness, truth, beauty, and all the answers one could ever want answered could be found in the Life that He offered, if we would swallow it whole and trust Him. It was the original bargain that He made with us. We could have our fill of the Tree of Life and never have to question anything, never have to even know what irony even was, but that crafty enemy used irony to deceive us. He told us we could “be like God” but that idea wasn’t original with him, it was God’s plan from before the foundation of the world that we would be “predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son” (Romans 8:29). How ironic that we forsook the power of God to make us “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4) and tried to take that responsibility on ourselves. God offered us Himself, we declined Him, yet we scratch our heads at why we don’t have Him.
But although we have a crafty enemy, we have a supremely wise Savior. Jesus has a propensity to use Satan’s own weapons against him. It was “through death” that Jesus “destroyed him who has the power of death, that is, the devil” (Hebrews 2:14). It was through the cross, brought about by Satan’s influencing Judas to betray Him, that Jesus “disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in the cross” (Colossians 2:15). It was Satan’s attempts to tempt Jesus that now allow Jesus to sympathize with us when we are tempted (Matthew 4; Hebrews 4:15). Jesus is Lord, even over irony. And everything under His lordship will be used at His disposal to bring about His will.
Irony was the weapon Satan used to deceive us, irony is what consumes our life’s pursuits and ambitions, and, ironically enough, irony is what will save us. “Whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it” (Matthew 16:25). The reversal of our ironic predicament is to choose to live within a new ironic worldview, one that says that “the last will be first” and “whoever would be greatest must be servant of all” (Matthew 20:16; 23:11). We escape the irony of trying to find what’s right in front of us when we realize and accept the truth that “He is not far off. For in Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:27).
We live such ironic lives—always seeking, always wandering, always questioning—when all the happiness, truth, and beauty, all the answers we’re looking for, are right there in front of us, freely available to us from the very beginning.
“Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28-29)
Did God actually say…?
Yes. Yes, He did.