Futility & Decay

woman sitting on brown ledge while holding book

For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 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. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. [Romans 8:19-22]

My car has some rust on it. I guess it should be expected; it isn’t new. It isn’t even close! It probably won’t be too much longer before something breaks, and a little while after that it will be done. That’s what happens with cars, though. They eventually break down and decay.

It isn’t just cars. It’s “all creation,” as Paul makes clear in Romans 8:20. All of creation has been subjected to futility and decay. Nothing lasts forever, not even people. We can plant a tree that might outlast us, but even that will eventually come crashing to the ground.

What’s the point of all this hardship, vanity, emptiness, decay, corruption, and rot? It is hard to believe, but God uses it to get us to hope in Jesus. All the bad is to ground us in hope. If we looked at the history of humanity and saw only progress and humans continuing to improve in every way all the time, we would be even more self-reliant than we already are. But as we look back in history, we see that all the great empires came to an end. We see that all great leaders died and gave way to not-so-great leaders. We see that corruption and decay and death is a universal problem.

And our universal problem anchors us in the universal hope of the Resurrection. On the 8th day, the first day of the new week, Jesus rose from the dead as a sign and guarantee that we can earnestly yearn and hope for the same reality.

But our world is still governed by futility and decay. How do we live, then? Well, the same way the creation does: yearning. We yearn for God, earnestly seeking and desiring God’s will and God’s ways. Even if the rust spots shine through or our cars break down, let us yearn for and seek out the Hope of the world.

Dear Father, we experience pain and loss and futility and decay. Yet we know that You are still God. Allow these things to drive us deeper and deeper into Your will. We yearn to see Your kingdom come and Your will be done. Guide us always in the light of Christ, Amen.

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