All the sickness and trouble to which we are subjected in this life, and death itself, are evidence of the vanity or corruption to which the world was subjected in the fall (Genesis 3). Paul depicts all of creation as “groaning.”
For the creation was subjected to vanity, not of its own will, but by reason of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the liberty of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now (Romans 8:20-22, ASV).
He goes on to say that creation is not the only thing groaning.
And not only so, but ourselves also, who have the first-fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan with ourselves, waiting for our adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body (Romans 8:23, ASV).
I do not pretend to have all the answers relating to our pain and suffering, but when considered in light of the Story, many of our troubles are apparently related to the Fall in the same way that cause is related to effect.
The toil and trouble to which humanity is subjected is the result, in part, of what occurred in the Garden (Genesis 3). Adam was told that he could eat of every tree, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, he was not to eat—and a penalty accompanied the prohibition. The penalty was death. Sin entered into the world through the one act of disobedience, and death found its entrance through sin, and death passed to all men (Romans 5:12).
But I want you to notice something that escaped my notice for far too long. My attention typically focused on the clause “for the creation was subjected to vanity,” but Paul adds the phrase “in hope.” The whole creation was subjected to vanity “in hope.”
Even though the world has been subjected to “the bondage of corruption” (8:21), it will one day be delivered. It is the deliverance part of the Roman text that offers us hope. So wonderful is this aspect of Paul’s message he writes,
For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed to us-ward (8:18).
No matter what we may suffer—suffering related to “creation being subjected to vanity,” or the “bondage of corruption”—no matter how long it may last or intense it may be, Paul says that it is “not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed to us-ward” (8:18).
Paul emphasizes the “glory” in this paragraph (8:18-25). He begins with a reference to “the glory which shall be revealed to us-ward” (8:18). He tells us that “the creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the liberty of the glory of the children of God” (8:21). He further defines this “glory” by relating it to “our adoption” (8:23), and, for Paul, our adoption is a reference to “the redemption of our body” which is a reference to the resurrection.
Even though the world was subjected to futility, and in bondage to corruption, “we with patience wait” to be delivered from it all. “The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed to us-ward.”
So, pain and toil—death itself—ought to serve as reminders of the corruption to which we have been subjected, and they should also remind us of the glory that awaits us. “For in hope were we saved…” (Romans 8:24).