For 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.
These verses have been a favorite of mine for some time. They are a significant part of the Bible's answer to the question of evil for the give the very reason God let the world fall into sin: so that He might reach out in love across a chasm we could never hope to travel. It is one thing to love someone who has done nothing ill toward you; it is something else to love someone who has cut themselves off from you by their actions.
I have thought of these verses in a philosophical context since I realized their weight. They are my fallback in theological discussions about not only the reason for evil and sin but also to highlight God's plan for this whole thing: to glorify himself through the showing of the most powerful kind of love, the kind that forgives, sacrifices, and does not waver. But recently they became very personal for me.
In my talks with God I have often lamented how deeply I need other people. I can get lonely very easily. I have asked why this stumbling block seems to get in my way so often, as it causes a lot of grief. As I prayed about this most recently, Romans 8:20-21 came to mind. Not as a rebuttal to someone's point, but as something that applied to why God lets me have my faults. I have these faults so that when I stumble and turn from Him, He has the chance to pick me up, forgive me, and love me, all to His credit. So that I might be liberated from my bondage to decay.
These faults are still something we move through, that we take on and replace with more God-honoring habits and thought patterns. But in that, we shouldn't become obsessed with perfecting ourselves; the Lord will do that in time. We're broken for a reason: to be healed, and God is glorified in that, bringing us into the glorious freedom of the children of God.