“For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.” (Rom. 8:22-23; NASB)
I heard the earth talk again today. Oh, it wasn’t with an audible voice, but it may as well have been. Parts of my fence were shouting the second law of thermodynamics. My dog was whining and whimpering his discontentment with me. My weeds were expressing their rebellion against order and goodness. My wife’s garden was wilting under the late afternoon summer heat. All around me were voices (i.e., signs, evidences) of the truth that what God had created had been temporarily corrupted (Rom. 8:21).
All around us are the evidences of God’s majesty in creation: the beautifully blooming buds of spring, the refreshment of rain, the spray from a dazzling waterfall, the first babbling words of a baby, and a child’s insatiable quest for justice (have you ever tried to give differently sized pieces of cake to children at a birthday party?) all declare the “invisible attributes” of God (Rom. 1:20). But also all around us is the declaration that something has gone wrong — terribly wrong. The dead kitten by the street in front of my home found by the neighbor children, decaying trees in a shroud of wild brush in a vacant lot and the cries of a woman giving birth to her child all remind us that sin has intruded into our world. Every time we see these occurrences, we are reminded that even creation looks for the day when God will restore all He has made to what He intended it to be.
The magnificent promise of God is that He will indeed do just that. Sin will be removed (Rev. 22:3). Death’s sting will be vanquished (1 Cor. 15:55). Imperfect men will be made perfect (Rom. 8:30). And those who love God will see Him (1 Jn. 3:2). How do we know that He can be trusted to do this? Because within us we have the first fruit (i.e., the beginnings) of these blessings — the Holy Spirit. That a believer has within him the Holy Spirit producing His fruit, providing His gifts and leading with His wisdom and grace is evidence that God will keep His promise.
So next time you see something that shouldn’t be — a child crying, a friend weeping, your lawn withering — remember that it won’t always be that way. Christ’s culminating redemptive work will include a redemption of creation, and every other venue that has been touched by sin. That’s not only a wishful hope, it’s a confident reality.