A good walk ruined. No, I'm not talking about golf. We had a beautiful hike last weekend spoiled by the discovery later that a parasite had been picked up. By the time it was discovered, it was dug in, hunkered down, and the removal was a painful process. The question came up, "Why did God make ticks?"
Now the Bible is really good with general rules - love your neighbor, trust in the Lord. But answers to specific questions are sometimes hard to come by. "Ticks," as far I know, are not mentioned in the Bible. Since God did not explain himself, how can we know?
The poet, William Cowper (1731-1800) rightly points out that much will always be mysterious. "God moves in a mysterious way his wonders to perform; he plants His footsteps in the sea and rides upon the storm. 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."
Why did God make ticks? All we have is conjecture.
My best guess is that ticks (and other such varmints like fire ants and mosquitoes) are part of Genesis 3, not Genesis 1. At the close of the first chapter of the Bible, the Lord looks at all that was made and says, "This is very good!" Now, considering my recent experience, I don't think ticks were part of the picture, yet. And surely if ticks had been around they would have been a problem for the first couple living in the garden. Ticks are probably part of Genesis 3. This is the chapter that describes the fall of Adam and Eve. Part of the consequences included an addendum to creation. Eve would now have pain when bearing children. Adam would encounter thorns and thistles growing in his garden - kudzu would soon be choking out his grape vines.
The idea seems to have been that humanity did not do all that well in paradise, now let them live in a less than perfect world, with suffering and pain, and see if they can to a better job following God.
My guess is that ticks were there along with the thistles and thorns.
The theological challenge here is that ticks represent the idea of redemptive suffering, that pain and problems exist to draw us closer to God.
Thankfully the ticks will not always be around.
Just look at the end of the Bible, in the Book of Revelation, where the Apostle John sees a new heaven and new earth. "Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away ... And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."
No tears, no pain. Just read between the lines: no ticks either. Come Lord Jesus.
John Donaldson is the pastor at Newborn & Mansfield UMC. Send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org