Have you ever felt a small curl of melancholy, or maybe a tendril of fear, or a root of bitterness, or a little flame of anger, asking “Why me?” What does it mean to persevere, to be patient in affliction, to have joy and contentment in every circumstance?
I remember reading, once, that when we help someone, we reduce the amount of suffering in the world, we become part of the process of God working things together for good.
This last part of chapter 2 opens up much-discussed topics: human freedom and that grey area between claims of faith and falling away from faith.
And my next question to myself is how what I support reflects that truth? How much of my church’s budget, for example, a budget I regularly contribute to, is spent on a terrific worship service Sunday morning compared to developing, sustaining, and handing on depth and breadth of relationship with our Lord? Compared to caring for our community, and our earth? What concerns our church governing board the most—money? Numbers of people on a Sunday morning?
But though God’s judgment was delayed, it was no less certain. It was inevitable; that day had already been marked down on the calendar. Assuming the chronology of Methusaleh’s life corresponds with Noah, then the very year Methuselah died, that’s the year the Flood came—you see, if you tot up the years from Lamech’s birth, to Noah’s birth, and Noah’s age when the Flood came, you get the same number as Methuselah’s age when he died.
As I reflect on my own faith, I have to ask myself in what ways does my life reflect my statement that nothing is more important to me than relationship with God, and passing that on to the next generation? How does the way I channel my resources, the way I prioritize my energy, and my focus, the way I live out my dailies, reflect what I say is my conviction?
In my mind’s eye, Adam stares with numb shock and sorrow as God’s mark appears on Cain. Perhaps automatically he lifts his arm to draw Eve close, and she shudders with horror as the reality sinks farther in. Her firstborn, brought forth into their harsh world with cries of agony and wonder, with such eager hope, was now leaving them forever. And her other frail, beautiful son, lost forever to the ground they had come from, “…for dust you are and to dust you will return.”
What does a civilization without God look like? Activity, growth, progress, technological advancement, wealth, sophistication, an appreciation for towering intellect, and powerful art. All stem from God's grace to humankind, yet without God, civilization degenerates.
As each new generation forged ahead with brilliance, and accomplishments, all away from the “presence of God” which Cain had left far behind him, the sense of God waned until finally, a generation was born into a time where even the thought of God was gone.
The penalty for sin is far reaching. Sin can rupture every relationship, becoming the source of untold harm both to ourselves and to others, between ourselves and God, with the power to wrench every good thing within us into ruin.