Why is there so much sorrow and pain in this world? And why is life such a disappointing misery for so many? The answers are found in the very first book of the Bible
John Morton: Events recorded in the book of Genesis are very relevant to many of the problems faced by humanity today. When Adam and Eve followed the serpent's reasoning and went against God's explicit instructions, they brought great sorrow on themselves and the rest of humanity. By disobeying and rejecting God, they not only destroyed the close spiritual relationship they had with their Creator, but they unwittingly allowed Satan to become the major spiritual influence in their lives (Genesis 3:13, Isaiah 59:1-4, Revelation 12:9)
At the time, God prophesied that Satan's influence would cause major problems for Adam and Eve's descendants when He said in Genesis 3:15 - "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed -" A previous article titled "An End to Enmity" in the July/August 2000, edition of New Horizons expands on this.
A Prophetic Statement
After having addressed the subject of Satan's hatred, God made a further statement that has also proved to be very prophetic indeed. He said to Eve - "I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; in pain you shall bring forth children; Your desire shall be for your husband, And he shall rule over you' (Genesis 3:16).
On the surface it looks like He was describing the physical discomfort during pregnancy and the pain experienced when giving birth. But there is a lot more to these words than first meets the eye. God was identifying specific areas where Satan's enmity would hurt mankind most - in our relationships with each other. He knew that the attitudes we would absorb from Satan would undermine relationships between individuals, more specifically between husbands and wives, and between parents and children.
Satan, the god of this world (II Corinthians 4:4) whose nature we have succumbed to, has subtly promoted a selfish, competitive attitude in mankind that builds resentment and distrust leading to hostility, hatred and violence (Galatians 5:19-21, James 3:14-15). The large number of marriages that end in divorce; the increasing communication gap between parents and their children; and the amount of physical, mental and emotional abuse that occurs within families bear testimony to this. These dysfunctional relationships are part of the sorrow and pain God is talking about!
In Pain You Shall Bring Forth Children
When God referred to pain in "bringing forth" children, He was implying more than the pain experienced by women in childbirth. He was referring to the pain and sorrow parents experience in bringing children into an environment made hostile by Satan where life can by cut short by sickness, starvation, violence and war.
An increasing number of parents in this age experience the sorrow of having their children alienated from them by influences outside the family and outside their control. As each new generation is manipulated by the trends in music, entertainment and fashion, the generation gap increases. Our children are exposed to drugs, alcohol and sexual experiences at an incredibly early age. And it is painful to see them suffer the consequences.
Sorrow and Conception
When He said, "I will greatly multiply your sorrow and conception" God was predicting that conception itself would become a source of great sorrow. Conception outside of a stable marriage does bring a lot of sorrow and grief, especially for the woman concerned, her parents and of course for the child who has to live with any attached stigma. In today's immoral and promiscuous society it is tragic that millions of children are raised without both of their natural parents. And it is an even greater tragedy that countless millions of human lives are aborted each year. Is this the sorrow associated with conception?
And He Shall Rule Over You
When God said to Eve "and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over you." (Genesis 3:16, last part), was this another prediction of how Satan's enmity would affect humanity?
In the previous chapter, God had told Adam and Eve that - "a man shall leave is father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh" (Genesis 2:24). This was prior to their disobedience when God was their provider and protector and had a close relationship with them (Romans 6:9-10) -just as He provided for and protected His chosen nation Israel when they obeyed Him (Deuteronomy 28:1-13). However, when Adam and Eve rejected God, they were faced with the prospect of providing for and protecting themselves. In Genesis 3:16, God was telling how the husband/wife relationship would be affected by this change. The absence of God in the marriage relationship put a greater responsibility on the man to provide and to protect. God knew that in taking on this task, men, influenced by Satan's nature, would take advantage of the situation causing much sorrow for women.
History has shown this to be the case. In many cultures women have been harshly, and cruelly treated by men who literally "rule over them". And the situation still exists in many of those cultures to this day, where women have little or no rights. In more westernized countries that oppressive type of behavior is being contested, but because God is still excluded, the right balance in the relationship cannot be attained. As a result the rift between men and women in general, and more specifically between husband and wife, has grown to be a chasm of misunderstanding and intolerance and in many cases it has resulted in mental, physical and emotional abuse. We now live in an emotionally scarred and dysfunctional society that is sadly lacking in true love and happiness.
By pitting wife against husband, child against parent, brother against brother and family against family, Satan has caused a great deal of sorrow and pain. Adam and Eve came to know what that pain was like when Cain, their first born, murdered his younger brother Abel (Genesis 4:8 and 1 John 3:12,15).
It didn't take many generations after that for the effects of Satan's influence on man to result in such perverseness that God had to intervene and all but wipe out humanity with a massive flood (Genesis 6:5-7).
Sorrow and War
The contention that arose between Abraham's two sons demonstrates how Satan's influence in human relationships can cause sorrow that transcends many generations. It grieved Abraham to see his son Ishmael mock Isaac (Genesis 21: 9,11). How much greater that grief would be if he could see those who claim to be their descendants, the Arabs and Jews, still contending bitterly with each other - nearly 4,000 years later. Each generation brings greater sorrow on the next generation that is conceived.
Satan has successfully inculcated resentment, greed, hatred and violence into our way of thinking leading us to war (James 4:1-7). This has resulted in countless battles throughout history culminating in two major world wars that have killed millions.
Around 2,000 years ago when Christ told his disciples about events that would take place toward the end of this age. He knew that Satan's hatred toward mankind would intensify and cause many problems in the future. He predicted wars and rumors of wars, describing them as the "beginning of sorrows" (Matthew 24:3-8).
The word 'nation', used by Christ when he said, "nations shall rise against nation" (Verse 7) was translated from the Greek word 'ethnos' indicating that ethnic wars would increase toward the end of the age (read also Mark 13:8). This is exactly what we are seeing today. Over the last few years we witnessed some of the most horrific atrocities that the media have termed 'ethnic cleansing'. This is ethnos against ethnos, nation against nation just as Christ predicted. And there is no indication that things are improving. The apostle Paul endorsed this when he said that the very nature of man would become increasingly worse as time went on (II Timothy 3:1-4, 13). As time progresses and technology improves, the killing power and destructive potential of modern weapons staggers the imagination.
Despite cries of "Peace! Peace!" there is no peace. The war mentality lives on as strong as ever and what a great sorrow it is to bring forth children into this sad world that is so burdened down with the threat of nuclear and biological warfare having the potential to destroy all life from this planet (Matthew 24:21-22). Because of his hatred of mankind Satan has brought us to the brink of destruction.
Sorrow No More
Although the future of mankind under the influence of Satan looks grim indeed, God tells us that He will bring an end to Satan's rule. The Bible predicts a time in the future when Jesus Christ will rule this earth. It will be a time when all things will be restored particularly the relationship with God, which in turn will enable man to get on with his fellowman (Acts 3:20-21). The Bible predicts that mankind will be rescued from the sorrow that Satan's enmity has caused and will learn a new way of life under Christ's guidance (Isaiah 35:3-4, 2:2-4, 11:9, Ezekiel 36:25-27, Jeremiah 31:13 and Isaiah 30:21). The Apostle Paul said that the whole creation is waiting for this time (Romans 8:19-22).
Satan and those under his influence will oppose Christ when he returns and after defeating the armies that oppose Him Christ will usher in a thousand years of peace. After that thousand years Satan will be released for a short time showing once more the negative affect of his influence. Satan will then be cast into the Lake of Fire (Revelation 19:11-16, 20:2-3, 7 & 10).
There follows a period of judgement (Revelation 20:11-13), after which those who have turned to God will become part of His Kingdom (Revelation 21 and 22). This will truly be a time when "God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying; and there shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away" (Revelation 21:4).
Already God has laid the groundwork and prepared the way for the salvation of mankind. These things will take place at an appropriate time (Romans 5:9-11, Matthew 24: 34-36) and all of mankind, even those who are now dead, will be given the opportunity for that salvation (Ezekiel 37:1-14, 26-27, Revelation 20:12-13).
It is the knowledge of the plan of salvation that gives those who are willing to believe, the hope that is needed to endure the sorrow, pain and oppression of this present world until the return of Christ (Isaiah 61:1-2, Romans 8:23-24). This is the good news that Christ brought to us nearly two thousand years ago.
God has promised to rescue mankind from the enmity of Satan and what He promises will take place (Isaiah 46:10, Matthew 24:35) and when it does - we will sorrow no more.
To comment on this article or request more information, please contact James McBride by e-mail at the comment form below.
For PDF or mailed copy, see CGOM. Excerpt from New Horizons Volume 4 Issue 6, Novmber/December 2000. Edited by James McBride of the Churches of God, United Kingdom.
Go to Literature Index Page
This URL is abcog.org/nh/sorrow.htm