It was June of 2003 when I moved to West Virginia. I was never one to run outside much, but I decided to take it on. I mean, why not? I just moved to the Appalachian Mountains. I was in one of the most beautiful locations in the United States, with tremendous trails and hiking places.
As I began to run, I found myself struggling to breathe. I was coughing a lot. In the beginning, I thought it was due to my lack of physical training. I was out of shape, and I could admit that. However, after I started getting more endurance and strength, I struggled to catch my breath. One day, I returned from a 5-mile run and could not quit coughing, when suddenly I coughed up a clump of black mucus. It was disgusting.
I didn’t have medical insurance, so I was a bit nervous, but I decided to keep it to myself. I found myself having a similar experience after a few more runs, then it stopped. I spoke to a friend of mine, who is a doctor, and he suggested it was my lungs clearing out. I moved to a place with really fresh air from a town that would have smog warnings regularly in California. My lungs were releasing gross build up. I would have never thought of that as a possibility, but ever since those few months, I haven’t had an issue with my breathing, I mean, that isn’t associated with me being out of shape.
Smog was an issue I experienced in my hometown. There were days we couldn’t even see the hills when we were right next to them. Our vehicles had to get smog checks to ensure we weren’t releasing more emissions into the air than was allowed. At times, we would have to stay inside due to smog warnings. It was a reality of my childhood.
Many people doubt climate change. I am not here to argue whether or not climate change exists, but I am here to suggest we care about how we care for the planet we live on together. There are ways we can show concern for the issues affecting the inhabitants of the earth. We must remember it is not only human beings living on the globe.
As Christians, we play an essential role in raising awareness and caring for the needs of this planet. When God created humanity, He made it clear that we had a responsibility to care for what He had created. He gave Adam the ability to name the animals. He told Adam that he had dominion over the earth. God told Adam to work the land to care for himself and his family. Essentially God wanted Adam and Eve to be involved with the planet He had placed them on, not only to use the resources but to care and maintain it.
Yet, according to dosomething.org, we can discover that we have not been living up to that responsibility well. A report by the National Academy of Sciences, over 14 billion pounds of garbage was dumped in the ocean in 1975. 1975 may seem like a long time ago; however, we must realize that things have only gotten worse over time. Fourteen billion pounds of garbage doesn’t disappear overnight; we can only predict the number is significantly higher now.
The Blacksmith Institute suggests over 3 million children under the age of five die annually due to environmental factors. We cannot brush this off and let this reality fall to the wayside. When God looks to His people, He expects them to be active in the healing and restoration of HIs creation. When children are dying due to factors that we could be working to control, yet we ignore it, I believe we will have to answer for our lack of compassion and empathy. If we genuinely care about all lives, then these children should be a part of that narrative.
Caring about the environment goes beyond worrying if it’s getting hotter or not. It goes beyond greenhouse emissions. It is really about caring about the creation. When humans are dying because water is scarce or are unable to access healthy food choices, we should care. When the animals that God created are dying because the humans He placed in charge of creation are putting billions of pounds of garbage or destroying their habitat, we should care.
Having a desire to see the world healthy is not a political issue; it is a spiritual one. We cannot ignore what is happening. We can look out the window and see trash in the bushes, air-quality worsening, and water contamination (i.e., Flynt, MI). If we care about the generation after us, we should care about the world around us now. There’s no reason for us to keep going on without concern for the future.
The Israelites were in the desert waiting for the promised land, but they kept failing God. He was hoping they would choose the right way to go, but they were selfish. Due to their selfishness, God had to hold them back from the promised land until the next generation was ready to obtain what God promised His people. Perhaps we are in the desert. God may be waiting for His people to respond to His call, but unfortunately, many choose to ignore it due to their selfish desires. Maybe it means the next generation that is willing to stand up for the creation will experience God’s fullness? I guess only time will tell. I want to be known as one who cared enough to do my part to care for all creation, not just my interests. That is why we should care.