All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts
—from Shakespeare’s As You Like It
I thought of these lines recently in Church. The parson of the day was expounding upon that outrageous promise God makes to his chosen people that everything is working together for their ultimate benefit. The Play, I thought, that drama presented on the stage of creation, is a comedy—a story in which the hero (God’s chosen ones) comes out especially well in the end, and all the tragic situations of the plot (including his own missteps and character flaws) turn out to have contributed to his success.
It strikes me that this is something that makes (or should make) Christians very odd. Since we have read the script and know the outcome, how do we keep ourselves from laughing 24 hours a day like Paul did: “Where, O death, is your sting!?” It may be that we are not laughing because we spend too much time reading the negative reviews. The Modern reviewer ignores the script and calls the play a tragedy, or if he is Postie enough, he sees it only as a War Story played out in the Theater of the Absurd. To such critics, we comedians look like the greatest of fools, but I say the Risen One, our firstborn, the Author and Finisher, justifies my giddiness.
And now, the comedic words of William Cowper:
God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea,
and rides upon the storm.
Deep in unfathomable mines
of never-failing skill,
He treasures up His bright designs,
and works His sovereign will.
Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take,
the clouds ye so much dread,
are big with mercy, and shall break
In blessings on your head.
Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
but trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence,
He hides a smiling face.
His purposes will ripen fast,
unfolding every hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
but sweet will be the flower.
Blind unbelief is sure to err,
and scan his work in vain;
God is His own interpreter,
and He will make it plain