“Acts of God” – hurricanes, fires, floods – are in the news daily, particularly when individual lives and the traces of civilization are wiped out. Christians wrestle to understand God’s presence in the face of such disasters.
In the current issue of the New Yorker, Christine Kenneally reports on the fires that decimated miles of Australia earlier this year. She describes the 300 foot fire wall and the burned homes. In one case, she writes, “police found a house with the remains of nine bodies: eight adults had formed a protective huddle around a baby.” [The Inferno].
What do we make of such devastation? What do we make of a dead baby? On the one hand, creation is fallen and this world is not as God planned. On the other hand, God could have stopped the fire.
I don’t understand. And yet there are some things I know. I know that God is just, merciful, loving, and compassionate, that He suffered for us and suffers with us, and that He restores and redeems:
We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Romans 8:22-24, NIV.
Perhaps the proper response is to participate in the groaning – not the groaning that leads to death but rather the groaning of childbirth that leads to life. I may not understand fully, but I can hope for and await the redemption that is to come.