Scripture: To the woman he said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you.” And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life… Genesis 3:16-17 ESV
Observation: As we explored in yesterday’s Daily Focus, Adam and Eve, having disobeyed God by seeking equality with him, evoked the Fall of our world from the heights of God’s good and perfect creation. The outcome? All earth’s elements are cursed—not just Adam and Eve and all future generations of humankind but even the ground (verse 17 above). Paul picks up on this historical reality in Romans 8:21-22 when he declares that creation longs to be set free from its bondage to corruption when Christ returns and reveals the glory of the children of God and makes all things new.
Meanwhile, nothing will come easy for all aspects of life, from childbirth to food production. In particular, we read that even the institution of marriage will encounter conflict. For God tells Eve that her “desire shall be contrary to [her] husband, but he shall rule over [her]” (verse 16 above). In short, Eve and all future wives will struggle to submit to their husband’s spiritual leadership. And rightfully so, since the noetic effect of sin mars both partners’ thoughts and pulls them toward self-centered behavior.
Takeaway: Under the curse of the Fall, pain is now the threshold for attaining those elements of life that bring us sustenance and joy. Indeed, we are hardwired to encounter both aspects of our fallen world, for our brain’s ventral pallidum signals both pain and pleasure. But pain is not the enemy; it is our ally that keeps turning us toward God. As C.S. Lewis contends: “Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
Pain also is the path to salvation, for our Suffering Servant encountered the most severe physical pain in his crucifixion and existential pain in his separation from his Father when bearing our sins in his body. Yet, for the joy set before him, Christ endured his cross, resurrected to his glorified body, and ascended to his kingdom throne (Hebrews 12:2). Paul had this reality in mind when he expressed his desire to fellowship with the suffering of Christ and know the power of his resurrection (Philippians 3:10). Indeed, when we fellowship with the suffering of Christ, he resurrects us to new life through his Holy Spirit who:
- causes us to pause and listen to the voice of God that leads us to repentance and renewal,
- develops godly habits in us that bring life over death (resurrection power), and
- and reveals to the world that we are Christ’s disciples as we take up our crosses and follow him.
In sum, when we tap into our Lord’s grace and embrace the pain of our fallen world, our suffering takes on meaning and purpose that brings glory to our Creator.
Prayer: Father God, we thank you for your Son who has shown us how to press through suffering for your glory. Would you please help us embrace the pain we encounter in this life with renewed minds that see the purpose of our suffering and trust that you are accomplishing your redemptive work in us? Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling