Spring is mostly here, early spring. This is a very good thing.
My daffodils are not poking up yet, although my neighbor's are. I am a little bit concerned. I do have the beginnings of some crocuses, some red shoots that might turn into tulips, and a few tips of rhubarb in the back. But no daffodils.
Early spring is not the most beautiful time of the year. It may actually be the ugliest. Walking in the park or driving across Wisconsin (we went to Minnesota last weekend), the dull gray of snow-moulded leaves dusts the face of the earth and bare branches spread, fatigued, into the chill March sky. On a walk in Minnesota, we passed a yard where someone had turned on a sprinkler, an attempt to green up the lawn, but the grass was still brown, and icicles glistened on the twiggy limbs of a young tree that came under a spray of water each time the sprinkler oscillated. Still, there is hope, so much hope, so much promise of green and growth, flowers and fruit yet to come.
I am sure it is no accident that the Lord set Easter in the springtime. After a long, cold, dark season, it is right that the Resurrection celebration should accentuate the earth's new life at the end of every winter.
The earth is tired and worn. All creation is subject to bondage and decay, as in the same way we are, in our frail and earthy human bodies. Just as we await our redemption, the earth awaits its.
We don't talk about this enough. We talk about "going to heaven when we die," but we don't talk about the New Heaven and the New Earth, the new bodies that the Lord has promised to us. He says, "Behold, I am making all things new." It will happen, just as Jesus rose from the dead, just as spring comes every year. Total redemption for all of groaning creation.
I am so tired of hearing people claim that there could not possibly be a god, because there is suffering in the world. Clearly they have not read the Bible in their quest for God, because He tells us there, over and over, that suffering is a normal and expected part of life in a fallen world. This is exactly why redemption is necessary. This is why there will be a New Heaven and New Earth: because we broke the original heaven and earth through our sin and our pride, our desire to be like God and to make our own decisions apart from His wisdom. We live in a broken world that our ancestors messed up, but God has a perfect plan to restore it all, and He invites us to be a part of it. He is taking His time in the process because He loves us, and He wants as many as possible to learn about Him and believe in Him before the end of this world.
And so we continue in this place that is full of beauty and wonder because He created it, but also full of sorrow and horror, because we rebelled and brought in sin. There are flowers and oil spills, newborn babies and wars. We have mountains, sunrises, sunsets, grapes, horses, dolphins, puppies, waterfalls and vegetable gardens. We also have hurricanes, tornadoes, child abuse, sexual predators, stomach flu, racism and thieving politicians. We have love, and we have cancer. How can all these things exist together? It's because everything God created was good, but He gave humankind the freedom of choice, and the choices we made were bad, and the tarnish began and has continued to this day, the perversion of evil twisting the inherent beauty of God's creation.
Still, there is hope because He is faithful to His promises, and way back in the garden of Eden, before He even threw them out, God promised Adam and Eve that the seed of the woman would rise up and crush the serpent's head. After the fall into sin, the entire remainder of the Old Testament is about how God was preparing the world for Messiah, setting up pictures, patterns, symbols, ancestors, parables, signs and prophets, everything pointing to the One who would come and put things to rights.
And then He came, Jesus came. He fulfilled the prophecies, teaching, healing, restoring, reviving, and ultimately dying and rising again. He came to bring us back into fellowship with the Holy God who sent Him.
"Why can't I just do what I want, if I'm not hurting anybody? Why shouldn't I be able to have premarital sex, and abortions, and be homosexual if I so choose? Who says I can't do what I want? How am I hurting anyone or anything?"
Couldn't Eve have asked exactly the same question? "Who says I can't eat this fruit? It looks so good. I'm sure it's very tasty. How could a loving god possibly tell me I can't have this lovely piece of fruit? That would be so mean."
It all comes down to pride and humility. Are you humble enough to surrender to the God
who created you (and the entire Universe), and admit that He knows more about how it all works than you do? Can you believe that the Creator understands His creation and knows what is good for it, and what is not? Or are you pridefully determined that you know better than God?
If there is a God, and if He created all things intentionally and intelligently, as the Bible says, then it is rather silly even to imagine that you might know better than He does.
Of course, if you don't believe the Bible, you don't believe the Bible. I guess that's another choice you make. But your choice does not determine the ultimate truth of things; your choice is either right or wrong.
If you want to explore more, you can read these posts from the past:
On suffering (start series here).
On the the existence of God and the Bible.
On God as Creator of all things.