Have you ever been in a painful situation and thought, “what is the point of this?” When suffering enters our lives, we tend to look for a “reason” or explanation. But, it can be additionally frustrating when we experience difficulties that feel purposeless.
In Genesis 4, Scripture records an account of suffering that is difficult to understand: the day when Abel was murdered by his own brother, Cain. As a mother, my heart is immediately broken for Eve upon reading this story. I have personally experienced the pain of losing a child, but I cannot fathom the agony of knowing my child’s life was taken by another one of my own children—born from my same womb, with the same blood flowing through their veins.
I empathize with Eve’s certain suffering, questions, and wrestling through her grief. Even though God’s Word promises, “We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose,” this scene right at the beginning of the story of humanity leads us to wonder, how?! (Rom. 8:28 CSB).
Genesis 4:25 and Luke 3 both provide further insight into how God mysteriously takes what the enemy intends for evil and turns it for our good; according to His sovereign will. After some time, Eve gave birth to a third son, and named him Seth because she said “God has appointed for me another offspring instead of Abel, for Cain killed him” (Gen. 4:25 ESV).
Then, when we look at Luke 3:38, we see that Jesus came from Seth’s lineage! Eve was right. God had indeed appointed Seth, knowing that ultimately, Christ would come from his line of ancestors. In a way that is humanly impossible to understand, God had woven Abel’s tragic death into the fabric of redemptive history from before time began. While this innocent brother’s cruel murder grieved His heart, it did not surprise the Almighty.
Out of Eve’s great loss—her son—God brought the way of redemption for the whole world by His own Son, Jesus! He clearly had a great purpose for her pain, suffering, and loss, even though Eve was never able to see the fullness of that plan come to fruition in her lifetime. God was writing a better story. He would not allow her pain to be for nothing.
Please do not misunderstand: I am not trying to draw the conclusion that if you have lost a child, it is because God is going to give you another one in their place. I am not saying that our children born after loss are guaranteed to do amazing things for the Kingdom, and that is the explanation for why our other child(ren) died. That’s not where I’m going with the example of Seth’s life. It is crucial that we read Scripture in context, and do not apply sweeping generalizations to our lives based on a few verses plucked out of a passage of God’s Word in order to appease our hurting consciences.
With that said, I do believe there is an applicable truth here in the story of Eve’s suffering: God does not waste our pain! Paul says it this way in his letter to the Romans, “And not only that, but we also boast in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope.” (Rom. 5:3-4 CSB).
When we suffer, sometimes we can’t see the ultimate redemption story God is writing. But in the middle of our afflictions, we can know that we’re loved by our Father who has good plans for us (Matt. 7:11; Rom. 8:28). Even when our circumstances don’t make sense or cause us pain, we can believe His Word that the trial we’re experiencing can be used to grow our endurance, character, and hope in Him. Seth’s life, born after his brother’s tragic murder, is just one example of God transforming tragedy into triumph!
Friend, what pain do you need to trust God with today? What trial do you need to surrender to His sovereignty? Where do you need the reminder that He truly is good, even when you don’t understand what He is doing?
I encourage you: let it go.
Remember Paul’s words: “Indeed, everything is for your benefit so that, as grace extends through more and more people, it may cause thanksgiving to increase to the glory of God. Therefore we do not give up. Even though our outer person is being destroyed, our inner person is being renewed day by day. For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory. So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:15-18 CSB).
In God’s kingdom, nothing is wasted. May we be open-handed servants, willing to allow whatever suffering may come in our temporal lifetimes to shape us more into the image of our Creator and Lord.
And to Him be the glory forever and ever. For all things. Amen.