Summary: When natural disasters cause people to ask, "Why did got let this happen?", the Bible gives us some answers.
Introduction: Given the events of this past week, I think we can all agree that one must stand in awe of the power of nature. And before we go any farther, I want us to remember that the power of nature is something that we must praise God for. The Lord originally designed the power of nature for the benefit of humanity:
1. The law of seed-time and harvest: “While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease” (Genesis 8:22).
2. Matthew 5:45 – “for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sendeth rain on the just and the unjust.”
Sometimes, however, we can forget that the power of nature is a gift and blessing from God. On one extreme, there are those who are quick to pronounce any natural disaster to be the intentional judgment of God. On the other hand, there are those who blame God for natural disasters -- saying, “Why did God let this happen? Why didn’t God do something to prevent it?”
I believe that the Bible gives us some answers that will give us a perspective that is different from either of those extremes. God created the world, and in Genesis 1 we read 7 times that God saw that the creation was good, said it was good, and it was good. Natural law was put in place to keep God’s creation good. But then, sin came in. In Romans 5:12 we read, “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” When sin came in, death came in. Death is a corruption of God’s good purpose of life.
The corruption introduced into God’s creation by the sin of man has had an impact on all of nature, even to the extent of the power of nature being corrupted from God’s original good”. Scientists call this the “second law of thermodynamics”. The second law of thermodynamics states that everything in this universe is decaying. What seems fresh and new one day will some day be old and broken down. Something that is growing and vibrant will some day shrivel up and die. The biblical term for the second law of thermodynamics is simply this: “the bondage of corruption” (Romans 8:21).
The bondage of corruption is causing the creation to groan. The bondage of corruption causes you and I to groan. Even the Spirit groans within us. Can you hear the groaning?
I. Groaning of Creation 8:22
A. As we read in our text, “For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now” (Romans 8:22).
B. We clearly heard the creation groaning on December 26, 2004. On the bottom of the Indian Ocean, an earthquake measuring 9.15 on the Richter scale generated a tsunami that devastated Indonesia, Sri Lanka, South India, and Thailand with of up to 100 feet high. Serious damage was caused as far away as the east coast of Africa, some 5,000 miles away. Between 170,000 – 250,000 people are thought to have died as a result of the tsunami, and the count is not yet complete.
C. Much closer to home we heard creation groan on August 29, when Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast with 160 mile per hour winds and a 20 ft. storm surge. And area of over 90,000 square miles of the United States – which, for comparison, is about the size of Great Britain – has been impacted by this storm. Hurricane Katrina may eventually be classified as the worst natural disaster to ever hit the United States. The material cost of the storm is billions of dollars. The human cost is much greater, with tens of thousands of people evacuated and thousands feared dead.
II. Groaning of Ourselves 8:23
A. In our personal lives there is pain. We have physical problems that afflict our bodies. We endure emotional turmoil that comes with losing a loved one or that comes when we are disappointed by someone we love. If we are honest, we have to admit that we have spiritual struggles as we find ourselves disappointed with God.
As Paul talks about life, he does not want to candy coat the pain and struggles that we go through. But what he wants to do is to put them into perspective. Look again at what he says in 8:18 (Read). Paul uses language that helps us see life as an eternal proposition. We live here on earth for a little while, but we live forever. What Paul wants to make sure of is that we don’t get so discouraged with the difficulties of this life that we lose sight of the big picture of eternity. He says, "Don’t forget, there will be a time when there won’t be any more struggles, pain, death or tears. For those who are in Christ, there will be only joy and happiness."