Tears flowed down my five year old daughter’s face as she entered the sliding door. I asked her what was wrong and she asked for Mommy. My daughter knew where maximum compassion could be found. Through bellowing outbursts of sorrow, the tragedy was relayed. Our tiny orange kitty had died. A recent litter of kittens yielded a little orange runt. Discarded by the mother, we stepped in to aid the kitten into adulthood. For weeks, my daughter nurtured the kitten. She held it in her arms daily, softly petting the miniature cat, spurring it on with gentle whispers.
I wish my daughter had not found the still warm body of her feline friend. It would have been easier if my wife or I had been able to bury the kitten discretely, but it wouldn’t have stopped the following question: Why?
I’m not a veterinarian and I don’t play one on TV. Years of teaching has taught me to be honest with kids and confess the limitations of my knowledge. I don’t know what killed our fuzzy companion but I did explain why death crept into our world.
In the beginning God created a perfect world. There was no sin. There was no death. Adam and Eve promptly demonstrated the human capacity to be suckered by the devil. They were both deceived and defied God by eating the forbidden fruit. Sin entered the world and suffering accompanied it. Instead of living forever with God in the garden, man would toil and eventually die.
Genesis 3:17-19 (NIV)
To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”
Romans 6:23 (NIV)
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
The World Feels the Weight of Sin
The first two people on the planet managed to ruin a perfect spread. The human race was subjected to the power of the devil and his dominion. Christ would come and set us free through His work on the cross, as Romans 6:23 proclaims. Until Jesus returns, the entire world and all its inhabitants (including little orange kittens) feel the crushing toll of sin.
Romans 8:22-24 (NIV)
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 to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have?
The horrific pain we feel in this life due to sin is real. Understanding the root cause doesn’t magically wipe out suffering. We do have a hope and promise in Christ. When loved ones die or the streaming news feed bogs us down with bad report after bad report, we can cling to the promise of God.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 (NIV)
Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words.
My daughter was still sad after my summary of sin and how it killed our cat. Hopefully, my words helped her to long for eternity with God in heaven – a place where there is only light and life.
Revelation 21:4 (NIV)
‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”