December 13, 2011

Why God's Innocent Creation Suffers

By St. Nikolai Velimirovich

"Cursed is the ground in thy works" (Genesis 3:17).

After Adam and Eve's sin, God pronounced a punishment. He did not pronounce the punishment immediately but after waiting a period of time for their repentance. This is shown in the conversation into which God entered with Adam after his sin. "Where art thou?" (Genesis 3:9), God asked Adam. And when Adam said that he hid because of his nakedness, God asked him again: "Who told thee that thou wast naked?" (Genesis 3:11). Instead of repenting, Adam then began to accuse his wife. After that, God pronounced the punishment. Upon the serpent, which served as the weapon of the devil, fell the infinite curse. The woman was condemned to bear children in pain and to have her will subject to the authority of her husband. This is not a curse but rather a punishment with hope. Man was condemned to work the land. But what do the words, "Cursed is the ground in thy works", mean? Did God curse the ground as He cursed the serpent with an infinite curse? By no means! The ground is cursed only in the sinful works of man. Because of man's sin, the earth produces thorns; because of sin, there is infertility; because of sin, there are droughts, floods, earthquakes, plagues, and destructive insects such as grasshoppers and caterpillars. That the ground is not cursed in its entirety is clear from this: that the earth also produces good fruits. God, through the prayers of the righteous, has always blessed the fruits of the earth necessary for human life, and even the angels of God, as the guests of Abraham, tasted the earth's harvest (Genesis 18:1-8). For in what way is the earth and all the rest of God's creation (except the serpent) culpable for Adam's sin? Nevertheless, "the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now" (Romans 8:22). All creation does not groan or travail because of a curse upon itself but rather because of man's sinful works, which are cursed. O my brethren, let us be ashamed of our sin, for which even God's innocent creation suffers.

O Gracious God, forgive us our past sins and protect us from future sins. O Merciful God, have mercy on all Thine innocent creatures, who suffer because of us, and ease their suffering. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.