Creation Groans: Choosing to See and Hear

Toh Wen Shien

How do we keep ourselves informed about creation care, even as our modern lives seem so detached and far removed from the ongoing environmental crises? 

 

One of my nascent personal experiences with the effects of climate change came in the early 2000s. On a family trip to Australia, I saw for myself Tasmania’s parched landscapes, dried river beds and cracked layers of mud where small bodies of water once existed. It was heartbreaking to witness first-hand. Seeing this made me wonder why such changes were happening and invigorated a sense of interest in environmental issues. I only became aware later that this period, which lasted approximately a decade, was subsequently christened the Millenium Drought – a significant event that was widely recognized for its severity, impact, and partial contribution by human-induced warming.



This was a lake. // Photo by author.

 

In urban Singapore, it is easy to forget our inextricable link with the earth. I have found it so difficult to care consistently when we are regularly shielded from the heat in air-conditioned shopping malls or the storms in easily-accessed indoor spaces. Yet, our relationship with the natural world is clearly defined in the story of Creation. Genesis 2 states that the “Lord God formed a man (אדם, adam) from the dust of the ground (אדמה, adama)” (2:7) and instructed him to “work and take care of it” (2:15). Adam was made from adama. Our being is linked to Earth, and so is our responsibility to safeguard its well-being. 

This knowledge must compel us to turn towards, rather than away from, the seemingly grim news regarding the climate crisis. In 2023, there was no shortage of headliners – devastating floods, heatwaves, and temperature records being broken. Many of us have heard of the Cerberus Heatwave which swept through much of Europe during the summer of 2023. As recently as we entered 2024, news emerged that global warming had breached the 1.5C threshold for 2023, a key limit that was previously defined in the Paris Agreement. Closer to home, the National Climate Change Study V3 projected warmer temperatures, more extreme rainfall and sea level rise by the end of the century. These events highlight the urgency of the issue and the pressing need for Christians to be engaged in creation care.

Here are two practical points that Christians may find useful to support a consistent level of concern towards the environment.

 
1. Remain informed 
 
Our domains of awareness are increasingly shaped by whom or what we follow on social media and the channels that we subscribe to. Amidst the busyness of our daily lives, reminders about environmental issues as we scroll through our feeds help us to keep updated and stay interested in this topic. Examples include Creation Care SG’s Facebook and Instagram or ChannelNewsAsia’s section devoted to sustainability. Others may find a more experiential approach helpful, such as immersing themselves regularly in the pockets of nature that can be enjoyed in our garden city. 
 
 
2. Adopt a faith-based perspective 
 
While the news may be grim, our attitude need not be fatalistic. Our motivation to act is not outcome-based, but primarily faith-based – recognising that although the outcome may not be seen immediately, there is a deeper motivation behind caring for creation, and an unseen work is also taking place that will renew and restore His creation. This gospel perspective, and the hope that it provides, forms an antidote to discouragement and renews our desire to remain informed about creation care. 
 
 
As we choose to see and hear about creation care, may our hearts remain filled with hope and be continually stirred to action.