Red Deer Advocate, January 2008. When we do something wrong and then something bad happens to us, we wonder if God is judging. When the bad thing we do and the bad thing that follows upon us are of similar categories, we wonder all the more. Scary coincidences bring God into our thoughts because we intuitively know that our sin deserves a punishment that suits the sin.
For fear of causing offence or seeming harsh, today’s timid moralists would refrain from pointing out the correlation between the salacious singer’s pseudonymous name and the type of cancer she got. But so long as we are cautious in our choice of words, something may be said. God’s Providential control extends even to the falling of sparrows. “One of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father” (Matthew 10.29.) This teaches us that nothing is outside his government, coincidences included. I’m not saying that the coincidence in this article indicates a supernatural and direct instance of poetic justice by God. But it may be safely said that sometimes God appoints our sin to be followed by a malady that remarkably hints at what our sin deserves. “He that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption” (Galatians 6.8.) Any justice that looks poetic is a signpost to take special notice of. It may be that God did not smite with cancer by his own hand. But he ordered it. We may fail to take a lesson from a rock star dying of old age. But when an indecent rocker called Bif Naked gets breast cancer, we are startled by a mysterious association of sin and sequel.
We should not fail to see the mercy of God in this. He did not kill, but allows an extraordinary association in order to provoke Bif and her fans to fear, and perhaps someone to repentance, and faith in Jesus, who alone can save sinners from their final Just Deserts: the Torments of Hell. Scary coincidences ought to compel us to press into the kingdom of God without delay. That kingdom has been made accessible by the most conspicuous death in history, which involves the most signal case of poetic justice of all: Satan tried to foil God’s design to save sinners by killing God’s chosen Saviour; but faith in that death is the very way of salvation! “Through faith in his blood” (Romans 3.25.) This is poetic justice writ large!
The death of Christ is the event that reconciles sinners to God, for in Jesus’ death the wrath of God toward man was swallowed up; that is, the wrath of God toward those who would repent and believe. So this good news will do you no good at all unless you renounce the sins you feel God judging you for, and unless you receive Jesus as the Saviour from your sins. “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel” (Mark 1.15.)