At 14, life can be so frustrating. My son said to me today, "I'm sick of all this. All this useless homework about irrelevant stuff. You spend the first part of your life in school all day, in boring courses, and then doing homework at home, with no time to do what you want to do. Then you have to get a job, work long hours, and you have bills to pay and all those responsibilities. Then you end up in an old folks home eating jello and working Sudoku puzzles all day. What's the use?" Well, by the end of that, we were both laughing, at least. And yet, there is some truth in what he says.
I have been going to work at the same place for 22 years. Most weekdays I get up, follow the same routines, drive the same roads, park the car, walk in the door, hit the elevator button, step off on my floor, and go in my office, where I sit. Granted some things change. I'm older. My secretary of 22 years is older. There is a computer on my desk now (none of us used to have PCs.) But, really, there is a sameness, a tiresomeness about it all. In fact, sometimes driving in to work I'm momentarily overcome by the futility of it all. Do you know the feeling?
So I know exactly what my son is talking about, and I know that you do too. That feeling is universal. Things are not what they should be. Everything is touched by abnormality, warped, and subjected to frustration.
Paul says "the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God" (Rom. 8:19). So, Paul felt it too, this winding down of things, this entropy, the sense of futility. So did Solomon. "Meaningless, meaningless!," says the Teacher. "All is meaningless!" (Eccl. 12:8).
A few months ago I visited my childhood suburban home for the first time in a long time. That sense of futility came over me again. The houses were smaller and less well-maintained. The yards were somewhat unkempt. The park was overgrown with weeds. There were cracks in the asphalt on the street. Order to disorder.
All around us are the effects of the Fall. And we can't help but feel it. And yet, as we reminded our son (and remind ourselves), there's more to it. There's a reverse entropy at work: Evil may flourish for a time and things may seem futile at times, but the Kingdom is growing, all our actions have a purpose, everything matters. God has entered space and time and is undoing the curse.
Paul, again, went on to say to the Colossians this time that "God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him [Jesus], and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross" (Col. 1:20). Reconciliation is cosmic in scope. Somehow, God is restoring everything, making everything new. Everything is being redeemed, or bought back, restored to its rightful owner, made into what it was intended to be, including us.
"Grief is great, Son of Adam," says Aslan to the child-king Peter. Grief is great. There is futility. There is toil. But, as I remind my son (and myself), there is a Deeper Magic at work. Sad things will be undone. Our labor will not always be toil and, as Francis Schaeffer often reminded his audience, there can be substantial healing (or redeeming of our labor) now. Soon, and very soon Creation's frustration will be frustrated.