Contemplating Pain and Meaning – Genesis
I’ve been thinking a lot about life and it’s meaning.
I’ve been thinking a lot about my beliefs and if they really belong to me, or if I just snatched them up from someone I knew.
Life is something that confuses me. It’s this uniquely human experience that we live out every day until one day we don’t.
And what’s the point, I’ve been wondering. Why live 70 years and then just die? The world is left to trample your bones into the dust. To send you back to where you came from.
So what is the point? Especially since those 90 years are not going to be easy. Some have it easier than others but money can’t bribe sickness or fate.
Death, sickness, crime, bad things happening to good people; these kinds of things overrun our world. Not all of us are willing to see it, but it is there and it seems like every year it just gets worse. It makes our world worse.
We live a hard life, then we die. And the universe goes on like nothing ever happened.
So these are some thoughts I’ve been thinking, about this enduring struggle we call life. Feel free to let me know your thoughts, where you agree or disagree.
So. Here we go:
In the beginning, I’ll start with when Adam and Eve sinned. Reading the text objectively (as much as I can), Yah doesn’t seem particularly angry with them. Which surprised me. For some reason, I’d always summed that he was angry. But there is no mention of his “hot displeasure” or that his “wrath was kindled”. It seems like he kind of just asks some questions and deals out some fate.
And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” – Genesis 3:11
What is also interesting to me is that Yah curses the serpent but he does not curse Adam or Eve themselves. He curses the ground because of Adam and he makes childbirth difficult for Eve. But the text does not use the word “curse” to describe the fate lain upon the couple. Yah doesn’t seem to curse humans the same way he curses the snake.
“So the Lord God said to the serpent,
“Because you have done this, “Cursed are you above all livestock
and all wild animals…” – Genesis 3:14
“To the woman he said, I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children.” Genesis 3:16
“Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life.” – Genesis 3:17
And that got me thinking. Before we sinned we not aware of evil, but seeing that there was a tree of the knowledge of good and evil it would seem that evil already existed, right? Where did that come from? Were we just blissfully unaware of it?
Anyways, then, all in an instance, we awoke. We emerged out of this safe unconscious bubble. Our eyes were opened to the fact that we were dying and that we were naked — and that our bodies were vulnerable.
Death is our future . Everyone will die and we all know it.
And that got me thinking about what would happen after that. With the knowledge of death might come fear and with that, might come the desire to preserve yourself. And with that, might come selfishness and with selfishness, more sin?
And we could not live in the perfect garden anymore lest we ate of the tree of life and became “like one of them” and lived forever.
So we found ourselves cast out, alone with our newfound knowledge of evil. The evil that could befall us and the evil that we could inflict. We realized we were dying. We realized fear.
So I try to put myself in that position. I’ve known that there was good and bad since I can remember. But can you imagine what it would be like to, all of a sudden discover evil? To all of a sudden, start feeling a whole new set of negative emotions? All of these new emotions might’ve been swirling around in their brains, like “what is this feeling?!”
And then what happened? After we discovered evil. We hid. And then Yah found us. And he did something interesting.
He gave us something to do.
And I wonder if what I used to see as the curse of mankind (a cursed ground and painful childbirth) was actually, in a weird way, a mercy?
Rather than let us be consumed with fear and vulnerability and selfishness, and then shame because we fall short of being like our Father; maybe Yahweh gave a us difficult job to do in order to set us against the fear and continue ness of evil now lurking inside of us.
Man, you’re going to work on a cursed ground. It’s going to be difficult. Do it anyways.
Woman, you’re going to have difficulty having children and raising them. It’s going to be tough. Do it anyways.
In our life, it seems nothing meaningful comes without some sort of pain or struggle. Whether it be a good job, a strong community, a strong spirit, or a loving family life.
I’ve birthed two children and nothing about it was easy. But as many women who have birthed can testify to, that struggle lead to something monuments. Something completely and totally life changing.
Even if you haven’t personally struggled for the things you have in your life, someone did. And often times we don’t appreciate what it means until it’s gone and we have to work for it ourselves. Anything that’s worth something takes some work to get it.
We’ve all known people who don’t have any goals or ambitions or any reasons to struggle or challenge themselves. We’ve all known someone who feels like they have no “purpose” in life. With that, it’s so easy to become depressed. With no point to living and no meaning, you might even start to wonder about ending it all.
I just wonder if maybe the struggle and the challenge is part of where we find the meaning in life. Because when we face difficulties that are too hard for us to bear, our soul falls so deep into the pit that we only have two choices: stay there and be consumed or get up and rise above it. And there doesn’t seem to be any way to make the struggles in life go away.
So we have to look deep inside of ourselves and examine our emotions are their base level. And they are not always pretty. We have to grow and stretch and hurt and all of that means something. I don’t exactly know what, but overcoming grief, depression, illness, hurt and then making it out alive; that means something.
Those are the big things. But not all challenges are painful. Some challenges, like personal growth, can be extremely difficult to achieve, but so worth the mental clarity in the end. It’s not a physically painful process, but it requires grit and perseverance.
There are big challenges to overcome and there are smaller ones and there are minute ones. I just wonder if maybe life is a struggle because it has to be that way, now that we know evil. And if we didn’t know evil, there wouldn’t really be a choice, would there?
Maybe without challenges of any kind in our lives we’d all be twiddling our thumbs, anxious and depressed as we awaited our impeding death.
Or Yah could’ve just left us unaware of evil, in our childlike state. And I wonder where we’d be then. But regardless, we are not there. We are here. We have choice. We have freewill. And there is evil and good.
I don’t know. What do you think?