I work as a volunteer for the disabled. People have asked me why they were born with such bodies, if human beings are created in the “image of God.” How shall I answer them?
In Genesis it is stated that God created man in his own image. (Gen. 1:27), and the following is also stated, “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.” (Gen.1:31). If that be the case, then why is it that some people in this world are born with physical disabilities? Why is there so much sorrow and misery? This is a heartrending question. There do exist people who survive each day, not by reason but through the burdens they bear, and they are yearning for life. When I receive such anguished questions from them, I am at a loss as to what answer I should give.
There is no doubt that our world is impaired in many ways. Creation is groaning in pain. I do not believe this world around us is exactly the way God would like it to be. In Jewish and Christian tradition, we are taught that owing of mankind’s abuse of freedom, the order of creation was wrecked and the world became subject to the forces of emptiness.
At the same time though, Christians believe that God, through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, will one day restore this brokenness in the order of creation, and bring it to perfection. In the Bible this is signified by the word “expiation.”
Christians sees the ultimate in human misery in Jesus Christ, who died on the cross while crying out, “My God, my God, why have thou forsaken me,” (Mark 15.34). We observe here the fact that our agonies were taken over by God. The fact that Jesus was raised from the dead, is a work manifesting in a definitive way the will of God, to heal the wounds of the world and save it. As Paul asserts, the resurrection of Jesus was the “first fruit” so to say, of the new creation (1 Cor. 15.20). It is a promise that God will renew the world in the last days, and an event that guarantees the fact that all who were united with Jesus would receive new life.
To say the least, the God Christians believe in is not a God who stands by and passively watches the sufferings and miseries of the world. The God who reveals Himself through the cross of Jesus, is one who is distraught over the misfortunes of mankind, and suffers along with their sufferings. When we offer up our sufferings in conjunction with the sufferings of Christ, we will surely be participating in the work of God, of restoring the world.
It must be said that God’s work of creation is still in progress. God gives us partial fulfillment here and there as a sign of hope, but the full completion lies in the future. We look forward to this completion amidst our sufferings. As stated in the letter to the Romans, “For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed…We know that the whole of 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 first fruits 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.” (Romans 8: 29～24).