Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Birth Pains of Hope

For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.  For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.  Romans 8.20-22
The created order suffers from a judicial decree from God that renders it a place of suffering.  God did this with a view toward "hope"--the eschatological hope that the creation will be set free from its corruption.  Paul sees the convulsing contractions of futility in the created order as birth pains leading toward a birth of a new world.  Consider theses thoughts by Ted Hamilton from his essay, "The Prototokos Paradigm":
If you are in a hospital, and you hear groaning, it makes a big difference whether you are in the burn unit or in the labor and delivery unit.  The groaning in the labor and delivery room signals a good outcome.  There will be a birth.  It will happen, one way or another.  So it is with God's creation.  It groans now--in labor, but because of the power unleashed by the death and resurrection of Jesus, the creation that is now groaning (all of it) will be liberated and brought into glory.  On Global Wizardry edited by Peter Jones (Main Entry Editions, 2010), pp. 256-257.
This image of the labor and delivery unit versus the burn unit made sense and brought hope.  Pain is not purposeless.  The waves of turmoil and pain are moving toward a goal in Christ.  There will be glory.  There will be the "summing up of all things in Christ" (Ephesians 1.10).