22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Romans8:19-22
According to Genesis 3, when Adam and Eve sinned there were four relationships broken:
- Between them and God (They were put out of the garden)
- Between each other (They blamed each other)
- With themselves (nakedness was an issue)
- With creation (they would struggle to grow things and bear children)
In a sense their sin was the nuclear explosion that resulted in "fallout" that polluted every facet of the world. Human rebellion means that the world has been placed into a "bondage to decay."
Earthquakes, famine, tsunamis and hurricanes are just some of the ways in which we feel creation "groaning."
But Paul is clear, it is God who chose to make creation groan as a result of our sin. Our sin is the causal factor, but it is God who made the system like that. Why would He do it?
I think there are three reasons for this:
1. The extensive consequences of sin show us how serious it is. Sin has fallout. There is always a knock-on effect.
2. It's not going to stay like this. God will step in at some point and bring an end to the suffering and pain. While the "labour pains" are not pleasant, they do point toward birth and inasmuch as the human soul can be "born again," all of creation is heading toward "re-creation." The "pains of childbirth" remind us that we will be "liberated from bondage to decay" to experience "glorious freedom."
3. The broken world is a megaphone that reminds us that we are not in control, that we are far from God and that we need Him.
So, to summarise, the natural disasters (that we sometimes call "acts of God") are, in fact, the ticks and tocks of an alarm clock that was wound up by our sin, but when the time comes we will be saved and creation will be restored. Every tick and tock takes us closer.