God is good, and God offers good things. But many passages in the Bible provide the crucial balance of reminding us that we need to deal with those times when, actually, despite all we have said, it is not so. At the beginning of Luke 13 (v. 1-5), for example, a particular incident is cited. Some folk come asking Jesus why a bunch of innocent Galileans have been killed. It is the age-old question of why bad things happen. Wouldn’t it be good if bad things didn’t happen, but they do. We can’t ignore our vulnerability, our frailty. Even if we try, it will catch up with us sooner or later.
And, though Jesus takes the chance to say something about turning from sin, in the end, he doesn’t resolve the question, but rather invites them to hold the tension. God is not to be packaged as a kind of automated responder in the right way, sending blessings down for the good guys and brimstone for the bad ones.
Instead of answers, we get a story about a fig tree with an uncertain future (Luke 13:6-9). What is the parable saying? I am not quite sure. I think it is saying that we can’t be sure what will happen. And that, in the end, whatever does happen God is there and that, even if it seems to be the worst, maybe it isn’t, and that is even if it continues to seem that way, because, in the end, we are the Easter people. Without death there is no resurrection. So, when you can, enjoy God’s good gifts; but when you have to, hold the tension.