The Goodness of God

jhardy

I’m sure we’re all very familiar with the account from Genesis 1-3, of Adam and Eve’s creation and fall in the Garden of Eden. Sometimes it’s the most familiar that we tend to overlook, while we’re busy looking for the spectacular. This morning I was reading these very chapters from Genesis and was reminded again of their importance and relevance to my life.

God created everything that exists out of nothing… this fact alone blows my mind! Then into this perfect and infinitely complex creation He places Adam, then Eve, as the pinnacle of His creative prowess. As if that weren’t enough He actually cultivates a close and meaningful relationship with them. Under the watchful and benevolent eye of God, Adam and Eve experience complete peace and deep, soul-satisfaction; they’re innocent and desire only to know God and do what’s right. They understand what it means to be free and what it means to love and be loved by another.

God gives them this incredible garden to freely enjoy, with one caveat: there’s this one tree, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they are never to eat from. Now, we parents know what happens when we tell our kids not to do something… often that’s the one thing they desire to do. We all have Adam and Eve to thank for that!

Then, here comes Satan, telling Eve that God’s been holding out on them, that this one tree has fruit that when eaten, will make them just like God. Satan tells Eve if they eat this fruit they won’t really die, as God had said. Instead, he tells her that God lied to her by telling her that, just because He didn’t want them to become like Him. Satan promises there’s no negative consequences to disobeying God’s command here, there’s only good to be had… and Eve falls for it; hook, line, and sinker. She gives the fruit to Adam who scripture says is right there with her, and they both eat, expecting the grand result promised by Satan.

Instead, Genesis 3:7-8 records what actually happened as soon as they bit into the fruit: “Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings. And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.”

So, instead of this wonderous, eye-opening experience Satan promised them, Adam and Eve felt only guilt, shame, and fear… for the first time in their lives. Yes, their eyes were opened to the knowledge of good and evil but with far different results than Satan had promised.

Adam and Eve immediately knew they’d been deceived by Satan, but only after that first, disobedient bite. I’m sure they would’ve gladly taken it back if they could because of the overwhelming regret they were feeling but it was too late; the deed was done, the die was cast… and all of creation groaned in response. Thanks to that one, selfish and tragic choice, everything had changed.

After the fruit had been eaten, Genesis 3:22 confirms, “Then the Lord God said, ‘Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil…’.” In thinking about this, I was struck with the ironic reality that in a way, God really WAS holding out on them by withholding the fruit of this one tree. God wanted Adam and Eve to know only good; only peace, only love. He didn’t want them to know evil at all… evil with its shame, regret, suffering, and death. So, in seeking to protect them from what this knowledge would bring God desired to keep them from eating its fruit.

Yes, Satan was correct in this one point but he was way off base in everything else he said to them because he impugned God’s motives in withholding this knowledge from them. Satan claimed God was holding them back, preventing them from experiencing good things. Satan attributed only selfish motives to God; it really didn’t occur to him that God could be withholding this powerful fruit for Adam and Eve’s benefit.

So why take so much time elaborating on this sad but familiar story? Because I’m convinced that it illuminates the battle that takes place in my heart and yours every day. We who know and love the Lord Jesus, we know we should obeying all the commands God has laid out for us and that we should be keeping Him as the main focus of our lives, no matter how confusing, painful, or difficult things may be. Then why don’t we?

Maybe you’ve noticed I’ve not written any blog entries for several weeks because there’ve been some huge things happening in our family and to be honest, I simply needed time to be there for my kids, to personally process the events and to reboot in response to them.

We just welcomed our fourth grandchild, a precious and beautiful daughter, into our family and we all love her so much! But she’s come with challenges and a diagnosis: Pierre Robin’s Sequence/Syndrome. This amazing little girl already must be held very carefully at a particular angle so she can breathe and get all the oxygen her body needs. And she’s struggling to eat enough to gain the weight she needs to be healthy and our kids are taking her in to the doctor every two days, closely monitoring her weight. Unless she gains weight soon, a deep-gastric tube will have to be inserted to help her get the nutrition she needs. Her large cleft palate will be surgically fixed when she’s around 6 months old but in the meantime her eating will be a struggle for her… and for our kids, as first-time parents, who want so desperately to make life easier for their baby girl.

As parents and grandparents, it’s been incredibly hard watching our kids struggle with the challenges of taking care of her, and with all our concerns for her future; not sure whether this condition will be part of any larger syndromes, whether she will have life-long challenges to deal with, or whether the impact will be minimal on her once she gets past her first year of life. These answers won’t come quickly so we all must wait and most of all, we must choose to trust God in the middle of it.

As it was in the garden, I’m convinced the basis for all sin is unbelief; a lack of faith in God’s good and loving character as revealed in His word. You know how it goes: we read God’s promises, we choose to trust, and then life with its unpredictability happens and we waver, we question, we complain, we believe that God isn’t good, He’s not loving, He’s not trustworthy. We impugn God’s motives in allowing the things He does by assuming that He’s withholding good things from us because He really doesn’t care.

But just as the basis for all sin is unbelief, the basis of all righteousness is faith; faith in the good and loving character of God as revealed in scripture, no matter how painful or seemingly contradictable life’s events may appear to be. And every time something difficult happens to us Satan is right there, just like he was in the garden. He’s whispering in our ear, maligning and questioning God’s motives and His goodness, and he’s lying to us, telling us there’s no negative consequences to sin, that sin alone promises life, satisfaction, and happiness… and that God can’t be trusted.

But as the events of these past three weeks have underscored for me, God CAN be trusted. Always. He knows what we’re going through, He cares about us in the middle of it all, and He’s busy behind the scenes positioning everything to fit His plan… and His plan for us is always good. No matter what!