A Groaning Creation Continues to Groan
In Romans 8:22, Paul makes the following statement:
For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.
It isn’t difficult for us to see this once we take the time to focus on the world around us. Even if we merely focus on things close to our own lives, we will see many examples of what Paul means by his statement. Have any of you experienced the death of a loved one or even just severe illnesses from which it was hoped they might recover?
Daily, people are sick, hurt in all sorts of accidents, and die. In fact, as I’ve noted before, 150,000 people die every day throughout the world. While some simply slip away in their sleep, others are painfully injured or endure illnesses that cause seemingly unending pain. Unless you live in a cave far from everyone, it is impossible to go through life without experiencing the pain of loss when someone you love dies.
This can and does even extend to the pets we take into our home and “adopt” as part of the family. For people who have pets, they are unquestionably part of that family. They are loved, fed, warmed, kept healthy and so when we lose those pets, it is also very painful. Those who have never had a pet really cannot understand the measure of loss that pet-lovers experience when a pet either dies of its own accord or be “put down” to spare it additional pain and suffering.
In my life, I have experienced the loss of loved ones, both human and animal. In fact, in the past five to ten years, I’ve lost parents, siblings, uncles, and in-laws. Throughout my life, we’ve also had many pets and when they come into your life, you know that within 10 to 15 years from that point, if they die naturally and not through some unexpected accident, they will also leave you. The whole repeated process of experiencing the death of loved ones or beloved pets is never easy. Each new death makes a whole that really doesn’t ever fully close.
About 10 to 12 years ago, we adopted cats that were rescue cats. Usually abandoned and found by a rescue group or person but needing to be adopted out, we latched onto a few felines, eventually getting up to six of them. I guess that’s one short of “crazy cat person.”
Over time of course, our cats have either died or needed to be put down. Several of our cats developed cancers. The one top right developed throat cancer and the Vet did what she could to save him, but eventually, his throat began closing making it difficult for him to breathe. The other one (near right) also has a type of cancer that has caused a huge growth on his left shoulder. He has lost weight and is weak. He looks fine in the photo but that’s several years old. He doesn’t know it yet, but today is his last day alive. We cannot let him continue to suffer.
The other cat (bottom right) was also a rescue. Can you believe someone abandoned her when she was barely old enough to eat solid food on her own? They left her at a door of a veterinarian’s office. We adopted her and she almost died due to a stomach problem that was corrected with exploratory surgery. Even though my wife was the one who wanted her, this particular cat “adopted” me and oversees my articles and helps me with other matters I work on at my computer. She was also almost killed by some unknown creature in our backyard too, but survived. However, one day, she will die and the heating pad she lies on next to my desk will be empty.
So why am I telling you any of this? For two reasons really. First, enjoy life, but enjoy it for the right reasons. If you are a Christian, though you will physically die, you will continue to live forever with God. That’s worth celebrating and it should create within us a desire to share that “good news” to those who don’t yet have salvation. Second, understand that the reason there is death in this life in the first place is because human beings invited it in when we rebelled (through our first parents) in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3).
Had it not been for the fact that Adam and Eve succumbed to the wiles of the devil, death and sin itself would never have touched any portion of God’s Creation, on this earth at least. Though sin was already in the Creation itself – because Satan had sinned – sin had to be embraced by the woman and man through whom God had given authority to rule this world and have dominion over all the creatures as well as plants on it. Had sin never been embraced, it would have no part in our lives today because it would never have entered this world.
But sin was embraced. Satan – being the exceedingly clever created being that he is – presented Adam and Eve with a lie that redirected them from the sin itself to the temptation that hid the sin. They really didn’t notice the sin because they were focused on the lie in the form of the temptation.
Nevertheless, sin entered our world and because of it, death also entered and passed along to all people because, as Paul says, all have sinned (Romans 5:12-21). This is tragic. Though we Christians can find ways to celebrate and enjoy what God has provided for us in the here and now, it is always marred (in the present) by a darkness that is never that far away from affecting us.
Every time a loved one gets sick or dies, we are reminded of our sin. Every time we have to put a beloved pet down, we are reminded of our sin. Every time we see something terrible happen in the world, we are reminded of our sin. It is humanity’s fault that sin exists in this world and death because of it. We have only ourselves to blame, but fortunately, God has made the solution available. Yet, even with that perfect solution, people and animals will continue to die in this life. Sin has its consequences and even salvation will not change that for the time being. Though we have the victory over sin (via Christ), we will still die. Ultimately, even sin itself (along with death) will finally be eradicated but for now, we must live with the effects of our sin, whether we like it or not.
Paul tells us in Romans 8:23 that even we “groan” because Christians wait for the full portion of redemption that is yet future.
And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.
We “groan” because of sin and the effects of it on this world and on our bodies. We know what lies ahead for us, but we must yet contend with living in a body and mind that is dying. It is our fault.
This is what is astounding. People ask, “where is God?” when something bad happens. Usually, they’re atheists or agnostics who ask that question but sometimes, even people of faith ask it. The answer is that we are expecting God to step in and correct the wrongs that we have created. He has no obligation to do that, but He has solved the problem, though that solution it all its fullness and perfection will not occur until some future point that only He knows about.
Human beings are responsible for the ills in this world, but unfortunately, we cannot fix those problems. Only God can and He has offered a way to do that for the individual and for all of Creation. Until some point in the future, the entire Creation groans. The Creation is in pain and in its death throes. We can never escape it until the Lord returns. It is a very sad fact of life. I think as we come to know the Lord better, the great dichotomy between being thankful for what God has done for us and being sorrowful for what humans have done to His Creation becomes enhanced. How can it not?
This life is not the end in and of itself. It is merely a corridor leading to a door that leads to eternity future. There, people will either enjoy eternal life with God or eternal death apart from Him. The choice is made in this life.
Too many will make the wrong choice.