“What to do if you find yourself stuck in a crack in the ground underneath a giant boulder you can’t move, with no hope of rescue. Consider how lucky you are that life has been good to you so far. Alternatively, if life hasn’t been good to you so far, which given your current circumstances seems more likely, consider how lucky you are that it won’t be troubling you much longer.” Douglas Adams
I was writing an essay about thankfulness, how the Bible says that we should be thankful in all circumstances. We are not thankful for all circumstances, of course. We are not thankful for sin or evil or suffering. But in all circumstances we can be thankful and we should be thankful. I remembered a quip from Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide series on that topic. When I couldn’t find it in the books, I explored the internet, and I discovered the version above, which was used in the radio show before it appeared in a different form in one of the books and in the movie. I would have preferred that he spoke of being thankful rather than lucky, but I think that the illustration is valid.
I meant the quip to be no more than an attention-gathering introduction. As I wrote the essay, I listed many reasons we should be thankful—food and drink, clothing and shoes, house and home, and so forth. I pointed out the number of times we complain about these things instead of being thankful for them. I added that I didn’t intend to make people feel guilty for their times of ingratitude. After all, when we stand before God for judgment, he has much bigger sins to call to our attention. Ingratitude is hardly the greatest of our sins. But, all the same, we should rejoice in God’s blessings even in the hardest of situations.
I wanted to make a transition from the blessings of creation, through the idea of the coming Judgment, to the blessings of redemption. Something was missing. Then the introductory quote from Douglas Adams reappeared. We are trapped in a hole in the ground. That hole is our sins of omission—the times that we have not done those things God commanded us to do. We are trapped under a giant boulder. That boulder is our sins of commission—the many times we have done those things God commanded us not to do. We cannot remove the boulder or emerge from the hole. We are truly trapped. The best we can do is count our blessings, whatever they may be.
The greatest blessing is a Redeemer who lifts the boulder from us and bears it away. He takes it on himself to set us free. How far does he remove our sins? “As far as the east is from the west” (Psalm 103:12). The earth has a north pole and a south pole, but if a traveler starts heading east or west, that traveler can go on forever without ending—there will still be more to the east or more to the west. Our sins are removed from us by an infinite distance.
Jesus pulls us out of the hole in the ground, cleans the dirt off us, and puts us on our feet. His forgiveness is complete and unconditional. The boulder is gone, and we have been taken out of the hole in the ground. The blessings of forgiveness, of life, and of victory over all our enemies belong to us because of the work of our Redeemer.
And just imagine: a quip from the atheist, Douglas Adams, became an allegory of the work of our divine Savior! J.