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. This human experience that we live out every day until one day we don’t. And no one knows what’s behind the dwindling white light.
So what’s the point, I’ve been wondering. Why live 90 years and then just die? When the world is left to trample your bones into the dust. Back to where you came from.
What’s 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’s 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.
This isn’t a teaching or anything. It’s just some thoughts I’ve been thinking, about this enduring struggle we call life. Feel free to let me know your thoughts or correct me or whatever.
So. Here we go.
In the beginning, I’ll start with when Adam and Eve sinned. Reading the text objectively, God doesn’t seem particularly angry with them. Which surprised me. There is no mention of his hot displeasure or that his wrath was kindled. It seems like he just kind of 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 God curses the serpent but he does not curse Adam or Eve. He curses the ground because of Adam and he makes childbirth difficult and painful for Eve. But the text does use the word “curse” to describe the punishment lain upon the couple. God 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? We just were blissfully unaware of it.
And then, in an instance, we awoke. Out of this safe unconscious bubble. Our eyes were opened to the fact that we were dying and that we were naked — vulnerable.
Death is our future . Everyone will die and we all know it.
And with the knowledge of death might come fear and then the desire to preserve yourself. And with that comes selfishness and with that comes more sin. Humanity was doomed.
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 we could inflict. We realized we were dying. We realized fear.
Can you imagine what it would be like to discover a whole new set of negative emotions? All of these new emotions swirled around in our brains, overtaking our psyches with cold hands clenching our throats; like “what is this feeling?!” And through all of that, what does God do?
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 a mercy to us.
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 God gave a us difficult job to do in order to set us against the 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. Even if you personally did not struggle or work for it, 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 a toll to get it.
And we’ve all known people who don’t have any goals or ambitions or any reasons to struggle or challenge themselves: A lot of them are depressed. With no point to living and no meaning, you start to wonder about ending it all. Click.
I just wonder if maybe the struggle and the pain 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.
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.
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. 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 and judgement.
I don’t know. What do you think?