Read 1 Peter 1:3-9.

I have a little red spot on my hand. It itches. It looks like a reaction to poison ivy, though I don’t think I’ve come into contact with any while holed up in my house during this pandemic. Maybe I’ve developed a new allergy to something in the house. I’d better not touch it in case it can spread.

My legs are crossed, and the blood is not circulating well in one leg. Time to switch sides. I have a little buzzing in my ears and a slight headache. In fact, now that I think about it, there are probably dozens of tiny pains of various kinds.

It’s not just physically that I experience dis-ease. There are mental and emotional stresses. There are anxieties and aversions and ailments. Sometimes it seems like there are new and surprising dis-eases every day, every moment. Usually they are tiny, but sometimes they fill my whole being.

Of course, there are also pleasures and joys and loves. There is beauty and grace.

Why is this the kind of world where there are pain and suffering and death and global pandemics—and heroism and beauty? Why for every good action is there an equal and opposite reaction? Why for every beauty a horror?

Even if now for a little while you have to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith—being more precious than gold that, though perishable, is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. (1 Peter 1:6-7)

The beauty of the earth reveals the glory of God. But, for me even more, the weeds and pains and stresses and pandemics reveal the glory of God. Every longing glimpse of eternal glory, every aversion to some “natural evil”—or unnatural evil—all lure us or drive us to the eternal one. We cannot rest until we rest in him.

How could strength germinate without resistance? How could self-sacrificial love grow without hatred? How could faith blossom without danger?

When Adam and Eve, along with all humanity, turned to self-will, they, and we, caused damage seemingly impossible to repair. Death—how can that be healed? Self-centered, proud, stubborn, narcissistic people—how can we become generous, loving, self-giving? In the word of God, in Jesus, there is a way. There is a resurrection.

In this world there is conflict. The lion and the lamb. Angels and devils. Yin and yang. Life and death. In the resurrection, the lion lies down with the lamb in peace. God is no longer hidden. There are no more tears. All will be well. Every manner of thing will be well.

Of course, when Jesus is revealed, when conflict ends, so does the opportunity for growth. Or at least it changes. That’s why our time here is unique and our lives here are so important.

Although you have not seen him you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, for you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:8-9)

Sing: Now thank we all our God

Harry Plantinga

Harry Plantinga is a professor of computer science at Calvin University and the director of and