Why do these things happen? (Part 1)
Welcome to your 9th daily reflection during New Zealand’s Covid-19 lockdown. Take a moment to listen (or read) to today’s Bible verse before going deeper with the day’s reflection and prayer. (To subscribe to these weekday reflections, click here).
Tuesday, April 7, 2020
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the 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. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.”
The question “Why?” is one of our earliest responses to the world – as anyone who has to do with children knows well! But it’s a complex question. On one level it asks for causes. Here, the question “Why Covid-19?” has some sobering answers. Humans have not treated animals with respect as God’s handiwork. So, the virus leapt species. And we have lived as though the resources (and the atmosphere) of our planet have no limit. So, the virus spread. These answers are important when we think about the world beyond Covid-19 but they are cold comfort in the middle of a pandemic.
When we ask “Why?” we are more often interested in purpose. And to that there is no easy answer. But an important part of a Christian understanding is that our world is not the way it should be, nor the way it will be. We, along with our whole world, are in the middle of a much bigger story which begins with Creation and heads towards Re-Creation. And we, as people who have already made God our king, have an important role in that process.
But caught in the middle of the story, one of our most authentic responses is to join in creation’s lament (vv.22-23), as does the Spirit himself (v.26). This startling fact opens us up to the most important Christian response to the “Why? “question – but that deserves another whole meditation to itself.
How long, Oh Lord? Will you forget me forever? (Ps 13) Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am languishing (Ps 6)