I spent this weekend closely observing some of the effects of the fall of humanity. During our family vacation at my parents’ house, 6 out of 14 of us took ill (the youngest cousin started it all a couple days earlier). It wasn’t quite Vomigeddon, which involved my extended family in a tight cabin as all but 4 out of a group of 30+ got violently ill simultaneously. But this weekend was still awful—holding listless children, seeing my tough-as-nails mother and father brought down, and comforting my daughters as their once-eaten meals could no longer be tolerated by their upset stomachs.
As I sat holding my two year old, I started reflecting on the evils on the fall. Humanity chose sin over God, and every aspect of our world has suffered from the curse ever since. Thorns and thistles, animosity and illness, injury and death. As I held my bright and fun loving daughter, now miserable and mostly lifeless, I kept thinking: this is not the way it’s supposed to be.
God made a good world. No suffering, no pain, no sin, no brokenness. He promises to remake our world into a glorious new creation: death will be no more, he will wipe every tear away, he will dwell directly with us, replacing even the light of the sun and moon. God’s intention for this world is wholeness, peace, shalom. And yet every day of our existence between the Garden of Eden and the new heavens and new earth is touched by brokenness.
Yet even in the midst of this brokenness there is grace. As I held my girl, feeling her feverish body breathing in and out, I was comforted to think that her little body was fighting back. In a perfect world, there is no need for an immune system. Yet God has equipped us to live amidst the curse. We suffer, yes—sometimes more deeply than we could imagine. But my daughters breathed in and out, they suffered quietly, and God used their little bodies to fight against the illness and to bring them back to health.
Our experience of this world is altered by the curse, but this is not the way it’s supposed to be. Sin is a stain we see all around us, but it’s not the fabric itself. And God has not left this world to disintegrate. He is still fighting the sin, working against our self-destruction, transforming hearts and putting us to work in his fight against sin and its destruction. He entered this fight decisively when he died to give us life. He sent his Spirit to empower us for this ongoing battle. In big and small ways, God is taking this broken world and restoring wholeness.
God does not promise us health in this life. The most tragic stories end in debilitation and death. There are no words for those times when the fall takes those we love so dearly (and the fall takes everyone in the end). The hope we cling to in these moments is in Jesus’ resurrection, and the resurrection he promises to those who love him.
But as I held my daughters yesterday and saw the effects of their immune systems overcoming their illness, I was thankful for the grace of God. Thank God he has not left us in our mess. Thank God that “he comes to make his blessings flow far as the curse is found.” Ultimately, God tells us that this world is crying out, desperately longing to partake in the redemption—the renewed wholeness—that he will ultimately bring as he removes the curse and recreates the world:
“…he creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now…” (Romans 8:19–22)