One D--- Thing After Another
“Character is not made in a crisis it is only exhibited.” Robert Freeman
The title comes from an old family expression. Not that our clan coined it, but it seems to be a common generational experience. A similar one from a former coworker is “It’s never easy and it’s always something.”
Silly me offered to replace a part on a friend’s car while she was out of town. Another friend who’s much better with cars volunteered to help. Good thing. With much difficulty, we got the part replaced, but discovered the water pump had a puncture in it, which probably caused the problem we were fixing. We just finished the job we were doing, put water in and I drove it back to let it sit until the car’s owner decides what to do next.
It seems like most projects in this world are subject to Murphy’s Law or one of its corollaries. The Bible speaks of Creation groaning in travail and subject to futility. (Romans 8:19-24) It testifies that this world does not work in the way it was meant to. Genesis 3 famously describes God’s cursing the world because of sin: “Cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; and you will eat the plants of the field; by the sweat of your face you will eat bread, till you return to the ground.”
Some have argued that the Curse is one of the defeaters of the faith. I disagree, and believe the curse is actually for our protection, in a strange sort of way.
What was the sin God was punishing with the curse? Adam and Eve listened to the serpent’s lie that eating the fruit would ‘make them like God.’ Thus, we were beginning to feel our oats and attempting to emulate Satan’s jealously of God. It is critical to understand this point, for this is the core heart issue God is addressing in each aspect of the curse.
Let’s look at the three aspects of the curse, as applies to humans. The serpent’s curse is a different story altogether, so we’ll set it aside. Part 1 is to the woman, cursing her reproductive abilities. God created the universe and all that is in it. In a sense, the ability to bring forth new life through childbirth is like it. Therefore, to keep the woman humble, and not taking too much credit for the creative power of her biology, God increased the pain of it.
I’m going to jump to part 3 and come back to part 2 in a moment. Part 3 is the curse quoted above. The male creative power is most revealed through the efforts of his strength and work. Therefore, God curses that, instructing the creation to fight against his efforts to tame it. This is designed to help keep the man humble.
Why all of this humility? Once we get a taste for power, we tend to desire more of it, and to take more credit for our successes than we should. There is much of our accomplishments, both individually and as a species that we can take credit for, but there is also much that is due to more than just our efforts, and rightly belongs on God’s credit sheet. We need to keep aware of this, so we don’t get ahead of ourselves.
Another reason for the humility is that sin, like any debt, requires either payment or forgiveness. The problem though is that we need to recognize and acknowledge our shortcoming before God. Our struggles reveal our sinful nature because it is through crisis that our true selves come out. If life was easy, we’d see no need for forgiveness, even though the need was still there. Thus God made life hard for us to show us our need.
Now for part 2, which is spoken to the woman but directed at both. Remember that the sin was not eating the fruit but desiring to be like God. So God cursed the woman and man each individually. But what about their combined efforts? Sure, individually they were held back, but what if they pooled their resources and talents? There was room for corporate pride. Therefore, God cursed them with jealousy to keep them from being as completely unified as He had created them to have. He created the “Battle of the Sexes.”
As I thought through all of this some years ago, I realized a problem. The marriage relationship was designed by God to show the most perfect physical/material picture of the depth and intimacy of the relationship He desires with us. And here He is cursing it.
But this also reveals God’s wisdom, by making the wife desire whatever the husband had, it became a living parable of our desiring after Godship. (Do NOT misconstrue this to mean that being male is to be godlike!! Nothing could be further from the truth!!! This is an analogy—don’t take it farther than it is meant to go.) In order to reconcile this conflict, we need Christ to mediate between humanity and God. In a similar way, until faith and obedience to Christ comes into a marriage, healing and reconciliation is challenged.
In summary, our frustrations, setbacks and defeats are all a means to grace—opportunities to recognize our need for God, and turn to Him.
This is not a popular train of thought to our culture of self-sufficiency, and it is especially noxious to the academy, but it is from Scripture. For those that aren’t thrilled with such teachings from the Bible, think through what it says about real life, and see if it accurately describes the world around us. If it does, then perhaps the solutions it offers may actually work, and it is worth exploring them, testing them as a hypothesis. For those of us that hold Scripture to be true, we need to think carefully through the implications of what it teaches.
Funny thing about implications—one thing always leads to another.