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A few weeks before we moved out of South Florida, I injured by foot and was rendered immobile. So a dear friend did what any caring friend would do—she cooked dinner for our family.
We tried, we really did, but we simply couldn’t swallow any of the food her hands had prepared. The chicken tasted something like stale chocolate cake. The vegetables retained some flavor—I’m just not sure what flavor it was—but we all grabbed our water glasses to wash away the lingering bitterness. Dessert? We wondered if some kind of osmosis had taken place—strangely enough it tasted like chicken.
A bitter taste in our mouths is easy to deal with; we simply drink a beverage or, well. . . you know. But what do you do with a bitter life? A bitter friendship? A bitter marriage? These aren’t so easy to wash away or wish away or even will away.
Pain comes at us from many different directions, some of it surprising, some of it self-inflicted, all of it undesirable. Pain is a reminder that we live in a world cursed because of our first parent’s sin, but the redeeming of our pain—for those who love God all things work together for good—we can thank God alone because He sent us a second Adam, Jesus Christ, who lived a life of perfect obedience, something the first Adam failed to do.
I talk with people frequently who think they can win God’s favor by being good, having, of course, their own subjective definition of what that good is. But no mater what they plug in as a definition, it won’t work. Adam and Eve were innocent, having no bent towards evil, and yet they rushed right into disobedience. There isn’t a day that we don’t experience the ruin of that one act—we need look no further than our own hearts—and if we’re honest, we really don’t need a whole day; an hour is proof enough.
And did our first parents run to God and confess their guilt? Did they seek His forgiveness? Were they sorrowful? Did they humble themselves and ask for mercy? Sadly, they did not.
As we read the account in Genesis 3, we find them hiding from God behind a tree. What’s surprising is the things we don’t find in the account—there’s nothing in the story about thunder bolts crashing down to earth. I don’t read anything about God calling down avenging angels to take care of the problem. Adam and Eve don’t even drop dead on the spot.
Instead, God comes as the Good Shepherd, seeking His lost sheep. He speaks the language of mercy and grace, like an overflowing fountain of living water washing over Adam and Eve, promising a future and a hope. Here we see the beautiful truth that God is always the initiator of our salvation.
It is also here in the early pages of the Bible that we find the first promise of Christmas, the seed of the woman one day coming to crush the head of the serpent (Genesis 3:15), the curse being removed and sin being destroyed. It is here that the days of great expectation begin.
Today, as we journey through Advent, our family is meditating on these truths that make all the difference in the world:
When we were helpless, unable to do anything to save ourselves,
God did everything in sending His Son.
When we were careless about our souls,
God cared and pursued us with His grace and mercy in Christ.
When we were full of pride and self-sufficiency,
Jesus left heaven, humbled Himself by taking on our humanity, and redeemed us from death.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing.
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