During our COVID-19 shutdown, Pastor Zekveld plans to provide a personal reflection each weekday.
Earth is Groaning – Can You Hear It?
Can you hear the patient gasping for her next breath? Can you hear the sobbing of the grieving widow, the cries of children who lost their Dad? And what about the sounds of hospitals pleading for more masks? Can you hear creation groaning in the gasps on Wall Street and the groans at the Chicago Board of Trade? In the Mom struggling to help her child do his on-line schooling? In the grocery store employee reminding customers to keep their distance?
The sounds of COVID-19 are the sounds of what the Bible describes as “creation in bondage to decay.” Romans 8:22 says, “We know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.“
The story of the virus goes back to the early days of the human race in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve had been warned by God that if they disobeyed Him and ate of the forbidden fruit, they would surely die. (Genesis 2:17)
When that liar and murderer, Satan, came along and tempted them to eat, they ate. At that moment, a death sentence came upon the human race, and the whole creation was placed under a curse. God kept His word.
The coronavirus is yet another powerful reminder that this world is not Paradise anymore. We may try hard to reverse the curse and restore paradise through social, genetic, political and economic engineering, but “for all our technological advance and economic development, the world remains cursed by a plague that originates in sin.” (Richard D. Phillips, “Does Christianity have an Answer,” Reformation21)
We’re not saying that COVID-19 is God’s judgment on someone’s specific sin, or on a specific nation for its sin. But we know that when the human race sinned in our first parents, Adam and Eve, we chose the misery that sin brings with it, including a whole creation that groans with sickness, disaster and death.
Can you hear the groaning?
So, are groaning, decay and death all there is to look forward to? Is there no hope? There is hope. Real hope. The Bible says that the whole creation is groaning in the pains of childbirth. After the pains comes the baby! After the groaning of this creation God will bring about a new creation! Paradise will be restored. It’s on the way.
But who will bring Paradise back to us? What doctor? Which leader? What nation? Which thinktank? None of the above. Jesus is the gate to Paradise. When He rose from the grave on Easter morning, He became the seed of a whole new creation, a world where there’s no pain, sickness, tears, or death. No groaning.
Everyone who commits his life to Jesus in faith and becomes His follower will enter that perfect place. Jesus will bring Paradise back to earth on the last day when He returns to judge the living and the dead.
Through the blessing of technological advances, God gives some relief to a groaning world. These are gifts of God’s mercy to a weary world. We thank God for those who serve the human race in this way and praise Him for the discoveries they make and solutions they bring.
But these technologies do not carry the power of Paradise. Only Jesus does. They cannot heal the creation’s groaning. Only Jesus can.
Dr. Gregory Poland is a vaccinologist and Director of Vaccine Research at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester Minnesota. He and his team have now put in 13 weeks of 16 hour days developing a vaccine for this novel coronavirus. Dr. Poland is a Christian. He is thankful for the developments that he and many other researchers have made in seeking a remedy.
He is also thankful to be able to share God’s message of hope with his fellow team members and with COVID-19 patients. “Our hope is not in what we see today; our hope is the faith we possess about tomorrow. The most important tool is not a vaccine, but hope, and spreading that hope, and not a virus.” (“Christian Reflections on COVID-19,” Ligonier Ministries, March 31, 2020)
What an important message in our age of advanced technology! For all technology can do – and it’s a blessing from God to be used and enjoyed with thanksgiving – it can’t create Paradise. It can’t stop the world’s groaning. It can’t reverse the curse. And it can’t save the human race.
May God remind us all over again that hope lies in His Son. Jesus is this world’s hope. What peace and freedom this gives to Dr. Poland as he directs his research with vigour. He knows that he is not the key to solving the world’s problems. That burden lies on Jesus, and Jesus has empowered Dr. Poland to do his research in true hope.