While It Continues, What Can It Teach Us?
SOW AND REAP
Sow wheat seed and you get wheat. Sow rye and rye comes up. Sow barley and you harvest barley. Logical. No one expects anything different. Yet, when it comes to conduct, many think they can sow evil and reap good. Not true, as Galatians 6:7 indicates: “Do not be misled: God is not one to be mocked. For whatever a man is sowing, this he will also reap.” Much time may pass between the sowing and the reaping, but the day of reaping will come. It’s a lesson for us to learn.
EXPERIENCE CAN TEACH
Jehovah allowed his Son Jesus to suffer at the hands of wicked men and learn from it: “Although he was a Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered.” It also prepared him to be a high priest able to “sympathize with our weaknesses.” (Heb. 4:15; 5:8) The enduring of wickedness strengthens integrity, obedience to God, and helps us to be sympathetic with others who suffer, as it did for Jesus. Often parents today let their children learn by hard experiences, allow them to suffer the consequences of their folly, knowing they will learn some things in no other way. Jehovah’s permission of wickedness can teach us valuable lessons.
Many of our blessings we take for granted. The energy and health of youth is relished without thought, until advancing age robs us of them. Good eyes, sharp ears, good food, warm clothes, comfortable homes—these blessings and others are taken for granted by those accustomed to them. But go blind or deaf, be cold or hungry, have a leg amputated, lose a loved one in death—then you will appreciate as never before what you had and have lost. Blindfold yourself for a week, or for just one day, and you will realize what your eyes mean to you. Experiencing wickedness may rob us of some of our blessings, but it can teach us appreciation of what we have.
Millions today do not appreciate the guidelines God has given us. That is, not until they have ignored them and reaped the consequences. How much better to have heeded them in the first place and avoided the suffering! We do not have to learn by bitter experience: “The reminder of Jehovah is trustworthy, making the inexperienced one wise.” (Ps. 19:7) By observing the hard experiences of others, inexperienced ones can learn: “By the laying of a fine on the ridiculer the inexperienced becomes wise.” He does not have to suffer the hardship himself: “Shrewd is the one that has seen the calamity and proceeds to conceal himself.” (Prov. 21:11; 22:3) Seeing the consequences of wickedness can teach us to avoid it.
THE HARD WAY
Because Jehovah’s nation of ancient Israel would not accept his guidelines, they learned their value the hard way—by suffering the consequences: “With trouble he proceeded to subdue their heart . . . Those who were foolish . . . due to their errors, finally caused themselves affliction.” (Ps. 107:11-17) “Your badness should correct you,” Jehovah told them, “and your own acts of unfaithfulness should reprove you. Know, then, and see that your leaving Jehovah your God is something bad and bitter.” (Jer. 2:19) Many incorrigible ones, however, refuse to learn from correction: “Even if you should pound the foolish one fine with a pestle in a mortar, in among cracked grain, his foolishness will not depart from him.”—Prov. 27:22.
HOW MUCH SUFFERING?
There is much suffering now by innocent victims. Many are disturbed by this, but it should teach us that evil systems make millions suffer. However, we should not make the suffering worse than it is to an individual. People speak of the appalling sum of human misery, but this should be remembered: a thousand people may have headaches, yet no individual suffers the pain of a thousand headaches. No one suffers more than one headache; each suffers only one one-thousandth of the total. Also, wickedness has been permitted for 6,000 years, but no one person has suffered 6,000 years of it. Each endures it for only one lifetime. That is more than enough.
REMEDY BEYOND MAN
The important thing: learn the lesson continuing wickedness teaches. When we sow wickedness we will reap it. When nations do, millions suffer. In 6,000 years men have tried many forms of government; not one has brought peace and happiness. Over and over it has been proved: “It does not belong to man who is walking even to direct his step.” (Jer. 10:23) Politicians, militarists, financiers, clergymen—all have failed humanity. Do not these millenniums of harvesting wickedness teach us the need to sow differently, and tell us that more than man’s efforts are needed?