Why Did God Curse the Ground?

Listened to a preacher yesterday who was talking, in part, about the atrocities and sufferings in the world. He raised the question, "Why, in Genesis 3, does God put a curse on the ground? It was the man who sinned, not the creation, so why is the earth punished?" (Read it here, v17)
Why did God subject the natural order to such futility because of the sin of human beings? The natural order did not sin. Humans sinned. But Paul said, “The creation was subjected to futility.” The creation was put in “bondage to corruption.” Why? God said, “Cursed be the ground because of you” (Genesis 3:17). But why? Why are there natural disasters in creation in response to moral failures in man? Why not just simple death for all the guilty offspring of Adam? Why this bloody kaleidoscope of horrific suffering century after century? Why so many children with heart-wrenching disabilities?
Interesting questions.

The preacher than gave his answer.
My answer is that God put the natural world under a curse so that the physical horrors we see around us in diseases and calamities would become vivid pictures of how horrible sin is. In other words, natural evil is a signpost pointing to the unspeakable horror of moral evil.
The sufferings of the world are used, in part, to awaken man's heart to the reality and wretchedness of our sin in the eyes of God. The sickening we feel in our stomachs when we see - a bridge collapse, or a child born armless, or when a tornado/ earthquake/ avalanche flattens a town, or when thousands are slaughtered in genocide - that nauseous feeling is only a taste of the horrific nature of humanity's sin against a holy God.
God disordered the natural world because of the disorder of the moral and spiritual world—that is, because of sin. In our present fallen condition, with our hearts so blinded to the exceeding wickedness of sin, we cannot see or feel how repugnant sin is. Hardly anyone in the world feels the abhorrent evil that our sin is. Almost no one is incensed or nauseated at the way they belittle the glory of God. But let their bodies be touched with pain, and God is called to give an account of himself. We are not upset at the way we injure his glory, but let him injury our little pinky finger and all our moral outrage is aroused. Which shows how self-exalting and God-dethroning we are.
These tragedies are necessary because, left alone, the human heart is not moved by its own sin. It is probably safe to guess that 99% of people go through their day troubles little by their spiritual imperfections. People generally are not moved to prostrate themselves in the evening and beg for God's forgiveness. Our heart is too hard; it is so broken that it doesn't even see the truth.

So the next time we are angered or sickened or disgusted or repulsed by something we should ask God to help us feel the same emotions for our fallen state before him. And we should be moved to praise that God, for and in spite of us, would humble himself, take on the form of a man, and be obedient to a humiliating and horrific death on a cross.

(read the manuscript or download the sermon here)