While we were visiting our new granddaughter, Ellie, the conversation turned for a moment to what the world will be like when she reaches adulthood. The immediate subject was technology—what will the technologies that we use to communicate with each other and interact with our world in general look like—but what about other areas of life? What will the global geopolitical situation or the global environment look like in, say, twenty years?
With those questions in mind it’s clear that parents need a good deal of faith and courage today to bring a child into the world and raise that child. In some respects parents have always needed faith and courage because the future is always a mystery. However, the news of the week when Ellie was born was filled with threats: ISIS, Ebola, the Eurozone slipping back into recession, to name a few. Underlying the day-to-day news narrative the threat of climate change also drones constantly. I don’t lose much sleep over these things; more parochial concerns are more effective in shortening the night’s rest; yet I can’t help but think about Ellie’s and our other grandchildren’s futures in light of the news of the week.
Along with the scary news there were some hopeful items as well: The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to two South Asians who advocate for the rights and safety of children. Malala Yousafzai, still a child herself in some ways, was shot by an Islamic terrorist intending to deliver a crippling blow to the cause of education for girls in Pakistan. She survived and has become a global icon and ambassador for the right of children and girls in particular to receive an education. Malala Yousafzai shares this year’s Nobel Peace Prize with Kailash Satyarthi, an Indian activist who has fought child slavery and abusive child labor practices for over three decades.
The Sunday before Ellie was born I had the privilege of teaching a Sunday School class on creation care as a social justice activity, and the studying that I did for that class helps me understand the present situation and Ellie’s, Caleb’s, and Sadie’s future a bit better. This is, was, and always will be our Father’s world. Psalm 24:1 reads “the earth is the Lord’s, and all that is in it.” Since humanity fell into rebellion and sin the creation has been subject to decay and corruption, but that does not mean that God has abandoned it.
To the contrary, God promises that creation will be restored and reconciled to Him in the eighth chapter of St. Paul’s letter to the Roman believers. Given that Ellie came into the world through labor and childbirth it’s interesting that labor and childbirth should serve as a metaphor for that restoration and reconciliation in that passage:
We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. (Romans 8:22-25 New Revised Standard Version)
Of course, being a guy, I know about labor and childbirth but I will never experience them. Betsy, Ellie’s Mom, knows about labor and childbirth first hand. She reports that throughout labor and delivery, and especially in the transition phase, she kept reminding herself that the pain and strain would end soon and that when they did she would have the joy of holding her baby in her arms.
Yes, the world into which Ellie has been born is a scary place. Evil and decay persist in many parts of that world, and humanity often seems weak and unwilling to confront them. Thankfully humanity is not alone in facing evil and decay. The One who spoke the world into existence is at work and in fact has already overcome evil through the sacrifice of Jesus. Beyond that a day is coming when creation will be restored to health. Will that happen in my lifetime? In Ellie’s or Caleb’s or Sadie’s? No one knows, but the knowledge that it will happen offers hope. With hope, with confident expectation of a coming restoration, we can do our work of standing up to evil and caring for creation so that, in the meantime, Ellie, Caleb, and Sadie can have a future filled with bright hope.
Thank you for stopping by.