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Right Now, We See the Underside of Life’s Tapestry

life's tapestry
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Ever been to a football game at half time when the band forms words or pictures in the middle of the field? They look great from up in the stands. But have you ever thought about what they look like from the sidelines? Pointless, confusing, apparently meaningless. We see life from the sidelines. God sees it from the stands. As we gain perspective, we leave the sidelines and start working our way up.

God’s Higher Perspective

Isaiah 55:8 says, “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the LORD. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.’” God cares about the pain and suffering of this world far more than we do. We must learn to trust Him while we wait for His completed work.

While speaking about evil and suffering, sometimes I’ve asked audiences: “How much do you know? Let’s say you’re the smartest person who’s ever lived, and that you know .1% of all there is to know in the universe. Is it possible that in the 99.9% of all that you don’t know, there is enough good in the universe to outweigh the evil? Is it possible that in the 99.9% you don’t know, there exists a good God, and even a rational explanation—if you were smart enough to understand it—of why a good God would permit suffering? Is it possible that evil and suffering, bad as they are, have been used to accomplish good purposes?”

The Wrong Side of the Tapestry

In my novel Edge of Eternity, after seeing many events of this life that are terrible, something happens to the main character, Nick Seagrave:

A vast fabric stretched across the sky. Bending back my head, I saw on the fabric countless unsightly lumps and knots, like thick, rough yarn with frayed strings.

Suddenly, [my companion] Marcus beside me, I was yanked up into the sky and pulled through a hole in the center of the fabric. Now I was on the other side, the topside. I looked down and saw a beautiful work of art, like needlepoint or cross-stitching, a magnificent tapestry. The yarn and threads had been perfectly knitted together in elaborate design by the hands of a master craftsman.

I saw in the center of the tapestry the Woodsman on a tree. I saw how a senseless murder, history’s worst act of betrayal, was the centerpiece of a glorious design. Surrounding it I saw other tragedies, absurd and incomprehensible events that now had clear meaning and purpose.

“It’s stunning,” I said to Marcus. “Before I saw only the underside, the ugly knots and frays. I never saw the design, the beauty.”

“No wonder,” Marcus said. “Until now, you have always lived on the wrong side of
the tapestry.”

Often we look at suffering from our perspective and forget that God sees from another vantage point.

G.K. Chesterton’s character, Father Brown, said, “We are on the wrong side of the tapestry.” How true. We see the knots, the snarls, and the frayed underside. But God is on the right side of the tapestry—the side He is weaving into a beautiful work of art.

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Randy Alcorn is the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries (www.epm.org), a nonprofit ministry dedicated to teaching principles of God’s Word and assisting the church in ministering to the unreached, unfed, unborn, uneducated, unreconciled, and unsupported people around the world. Before starting EPM in 1990, Randy served as a pastor for fourteen years. He is a New York Times best-selling author of over fifty books, including Heaven (over one million sold), The Treasure Principle (over two million sold), If God Is Good, Happiness, and the award-winning novel Safely Home. His books sold exceed ten million copies and have been translated into over seventy languages.