For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is going to be revealed to us. For the creation eagerly waits with anticipation for God’s sons to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to futility—not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it—in the hope that the creation itself will also be set free from the bondage to decay into the glorious freedom of God’s children. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together with labor pains until now. Not only that, but we ourselves who have the Spirit as the firstfruits—we also groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. Now in this hope we were saved, but hope that is seen is not hope, because who hopes for what he sees? Now if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with patience.Romans 8:18-25
Whether you have the Coronavirus or just the flu, you groan. It’s what we do.
We suffer anatomical eruptions and volcanic disruptions called fevers, the shakes, a cough, an achy body, a running nose, a sore throat, bodily stiffness, fatigue, you can’t breathe…the body can be all messed up. Not to mention body-breaking accidents, and animals that are ferocious and deadly to us. And then there’s mental illness, depression, etc.
Where did such things come from? God didn’t create the first man and woman to have such problems. Did He? For that matter…death. Why is there death? We live in a world that has such painful realities…but why is it so?
The verses above from God’s Word give the answer we could not have known if He hadn’t told us. It’s because God’s creation was, and is, infected with the curse of sin…“subjected to futility” (verse 20).
It is the reason there are tornadoes, hurricanes, famines, earthquakes, and, yes, viruses! We live in a sin-cursed creation that has been groaning under that curse for thousands of years. Sickness, pain, and death are part and parcel of getting to live here and to enjoy beautiful sunrises, babies born, marital love, friendship, and good food.
This curse of sin brought with it a “bondage to decay” (verse 21). The entire universe is suffering from a type of degenerative arthritis. This suffering is likened unto “labor pains” (verse 22), as in a woman having a baby. Us guys don’t know about that firsthand. We can just tell that it hurts!
That someone has a birth defect or the coronavirus does not mean at all that they personally have sinned against God and are being punished…it’s simply a part of living in this fallen creation that is under sin’s curse.
The good news is that one day this curse will be removed! There is a day when the coming “glory” is going to be revealed, bringing back a paradise that will make the Garden of Eden seem like the Sahara Desert. There is hope!
God subjected this creation to be under a curse, but He couched it in a glorious hope (verse 20). The word “hope” is used five times in two verses (verses 24-25). One day we will be set free from this world of woe, from living in subjection to this sin-cursed world; instead, we who belong to Christ will live in liberty, a freedom where “God himself will be with them and will be their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; grief, crying, and pain will be no more, because the previous things have passed away” (Revelation 21:3-4).
Until that day, we groan, facing all the horrible effects of this creation being sin-cursed. This world itself has the flu of sin with the disruptions and painful misery that come with it.
Just think, too, that because Adam and Eve introduced sin and the curse into the creation, we are also born as sinners with hearts inclined toward rebellion towards God. The Bible says, in Romans 5:12, “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, in this way death spread to all people, because all sinned.” and in Romans 8:7, “The mind-set of the flesh is hostile to God because it does not submit to God’s law. Indeed, it is unable to do so.”
Not only is the creation under a curse, but our hearts naturally resent the authority of God over our lives. We need Jesus to save us, not only from this cursed creation but also from ourselves: “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you, then he who raised Christ from the dead will also bring your mortal bodies to life through his Spirit who lives in you.” (Romans 8:11).
This Romans 8 passage tells us who it is that has such a glorious hope. It is “us…God’s sons…God’s children…we ourselves who have the Spirit…[we who] were saved” (verses 18-19,21,23-24). Those who have been united to the Lord Jesus Christ in salvation are the ones who eagerly wait for this “adoption, the redemption of our bodies” (verse 23).
The follower of Jesus Christ, those born of the Holy Spirit, they—and they only—can live each day with such a future hope. This is not wishful thinking, but a sure and steadfast confidence in looking at the future. Paul said, “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain!” In one sense…can’t wait to be set free.
Do you have that? If so, do you stand in the comfort of that strong confidence? You may have it in Jesus!