The theodicy on my computer

I have a theodicy on my computer. My son and I bought it at Walmart five or six years ago. It's called "Age of Empires II". The people who developed this game probably weren't thinking of vindicating God's goodness despite the existence of evil, but that is what they did.

If you've never played Age of Empires II, it is a game where you have villagers that gather resources, so you can build castles and make knights and archers and catapults to defend yourself against the computer's army and to conquer the computer's empire.

Like a lot of commercial games, it has cheat codes that you can look up online. One lets you create sports cars armed with machine guns, which totally dominate the medieval battlefield of the game. When I saw this code, I tried it out and it was impressive. One sports car basically won the game for me.

But I've played the game hundreds of times over the years, and only a handful of times have I used sports cars. After all, what is the point? It's not much of a game if I do that.

That is the theodicy of it. When I'm tempted to feel frustrated with circumstances that I know God could fix or remove in an instant, I think of Age of Empires. Does God delay his instantaneous triumph over evil to make the game more interesting? Scripture says he does want us to have faith in His power and authority even when we can't see it in our circumstances.

If my villagers were intelligent, they might well be frustrated with me. Why do I send them out to risk their lives building towers at the edge of the enemy territory when I could win an instantaneous victory? "How long, Master", they might cry out. "Do you not care that we perish?" But I don't want to win in an effortless, instantaneous manner, I want to overcome in a challenging, complex manner.

The analogy only goes so far. I don't care about my villagers because I know they are only pixels on a screen and objects in RAM with a few variables. God does care about me and about the world, he has assured me of that over and over. But he has a much bigger plan than just loving me, and his plan usually doesn't include giving me instantaneous relief over my problems. Age of Empires has helped me understand that.

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