History of Redemption: Blog Post 6
For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it in hope. The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” - Romans 8:20;Genesis 6:5
Until September of 2009, I would say I led a fairly charmed and care-free life. Both my parents were alive and healthy, my family was healthy, I had a good job, and was now living in Bellingham (obviously the greatest place in the world to live). I was also part of a church that I loved. I felt like I had a good handle on things, and I had little reason to hope in Christ’s return. My eyes would soon be opened to the futility of my own attempts to control my circumstances.
This week I have been meditating on the relationship between the fall of man, and hope in Christ. That word “hope” is a beautiful word to me, and it is a word that defines us who are followers of Jesus Christ. Yes, we are a people at peace with God, who have been justified by what Christ has done for us on the cross (Romans 8:1), but we are also a people who live with hope in what Christ will do when He returns. We are a people in waiting. What would our relationship with God look like without the fall of man? We would not have been subjected to futility, therefore there would have been very little reason to “hope” in the future promises of God. “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” (Romans 8:24-25). Before this, Paul speaks of how we, God’s elect, “groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved” (Romans 8:23- 24). We long for the day when Jesus Christ will return and fulfill His promises. We long for the day when He will “wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4).
We are subjected to futility. We are constantly battling sin, our bodies are decaying, we toil for bread that spoils, we build houses that are always breaking down. But what does the beginning of Romans 5 tell us? “We rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Romans 5:2-5). Do you see how that series begins and ends? It begins with suffering, and it ends with hope! Suffering leads us to hope, and our hope is in the glory of God! God’s design for the history of redemption is perfect.
In September of 2009, we brought our then 4 year old daughter to the emergency room complaining of abdominal pain. I thought at worst, she might have an appendicitis and need to have surgery to have her appendix removed. As an anesthesiologist, I have been involved in probably more than 500 appendectomies, and I felt assured that this was a simple operation and that she would be fine. When the radiologist looked at her ultrasound he told me that she had a large tumor in her belly. It was cancer. It was the darkest moment of my life to date. I was subjected to futility. Over the days and weeks and months that followed, I needed hope, and it was in the promises of God that I found it. Before this, I loved Jesus, and would say I worshipped Him as my Lord and Savior, but I had never really longed for His return. That week I prayed over and over again, “Come, Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20). I knew that my hope needed to be in something higher than my daughter’s recovery. I needed hope that God would one day wipe away every tear I was shedding, and that my daughter and my son and my wife and I would worship Him in the new Jerusalem, in the dwelling place of God (Revelation 21:2-3). I needed hope that He would one day destroy cancer, so that no father would ever again have to feel this pain, a mere echo of the pain that God felt as He let His perfect Son be crucified and die for the sins of many.
Thank you Lord Jesus, for the hope you have placed in our hearts. Thank you for the suffering and the trials that you have used to point us to this hope. Come, Lord Jesus.
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” - Hebrews 11:1