With sorrow you shall bring forth children

After the fall God said to the woman: “I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception;

In pain you shall bring forth children (Genesis 3:16). God says this to Eve after she ate from ‘the apple’. Because of this verse pain at a delivery is sometimes looked upon as a punishment. For her disobedience.

I think this is a strange conclusion, because it would mean that women with easy deliveries are being punished less than women with difficult deliveries. And besides that, I totally don’t see any point in such a punishment. Do you learn something from it? Are you going to pay better attention now? Will you never ever eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil again? Or has God, our loving Father, a sadistic trait? That He rubs it in with every birth: “you are bad!”. This doesn’t line up with the image of God who did not spare His own Son, but with Him gives us freely all things. With the God who justifies. (Romans 8:31-33). According to me, this isn’t a punishment, but a consequence of the knowledge of good and evil. God tells Eve how the new situation will be now evil has entered the world.

Older translations don’t use the word pain, but also the word sorrow. Sorrow refers to grief, sadness and spiritual pain and I think this is the direction wherein we should understand it.

Having children in a world with the knowledge of good and evil brings joy, but also sorrow. You see your children cry, being distressed, sick, in pain, unjustly treated, and sometimes you even see them die. Yo see your children making the wrong choices. You see them making the same mistakes you made and you aren’t able to stop them. How often haven’t we been worried about our children? How often a mother has said: “I which I could take its place”?

Eve saw her one son murder the other.

Mary saw her Son being betrayed, tortured and murdered and He had done nothing wrong.

A man doesn’t bring forth in sorrow, but he experiences the same burdens. Man and woman labour equally. When his child is born a man can feel overwhelmed by an enormous sense of responsibility. He is unsure if he will be a good dad and he can be anxious for the vulnerability that accompanies this new life. You can read this into “In toil you shall eat of it”. The ground is cursed, she doesn’t only bring forth good things. Thorns and thistles threaten the future of your children. Will you be able to give them what they need? Will you be able to protect them?

As a church, do we have the same feelings with babies in faith?

Sometimes when I hear people talk about evangelisation, it reminds me of ‘bringing forth in sorrow’. It really is hard to talk with your unbelieving neighbours about faith. Inviting colleagues for the Christmas service in church or to an Alpha course can be very apprehensive.

And when you look at the way we treat new believers, it looks a bit like struggling to get the thorns and thistles under control. We see danger everywhere and want to protect these babies in faith against it. That’s why we quickly tell them what they better could not do.

In advance of our next evangelism campaign, lets do some relaxation exercises as well as intercession. Breath in, breath out. Evangelisation is something natural, like giving birth is. What helps speed up the process is relaxing. If you get into a cramp you only slow things down.

Just be your Christian self, let your gentleness be known to all men (Philippians 4:5), as well as your generosity and your hospitality (Acts 2:44-47) and when the occasion is there, just tell what your faith means to you.

When someone comes to faith, let us pamper him or her just like we should do with a little baby. Most important for every new born is love, mercy and milk. A baby gets attached because it is confirmed time and again. It doesn’t matter how hard and how often it cries or poops, the parents are always there to feed, to cuddle and to clean. We have a tremendous mercy for a baby. Those little ones don’t know any better, so we don’t blame them for their behaviour. But from our toddlers we almost don’t accept that behaviour any more and our teenagers really get themselves in trouble when thy cry for food like that when they are hungry.

So let’s have patience with new believers and not expect from them to behave ‘the way it should’. Let us first learn them what the love and mercy of God is like and with it that eternal judgement for them is being with God forever. Let’s learn them what the meaning is of the resurrection, baptism and of laying on of hands. Let’s show them what dead works are and how they can leave them behind and how they can have faith toward God, because that is milk according to Hebrews 6:1-2

Solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. (5:14)

What solid food is exactly will be subject in a later blog.