Reading: Genesis 3:16-19
The salvation promised in Christ is not just the deliverance of the soul from eternal destruction, but the redemption also of the physical body (Romans 8:20; 1 John 3:2). The body will be delivered from all suffering, pain, and disease. Paul says we are saved “in the hope of,” being “delivered” from the vanity to which we have been subjected (Romans 8:20–24).
The sorrow to which mankind is subjected is the effects of the curse, not the curse itself. Death is the curse; “the wages of sin is death.” Satan is cursed (verse 14), and the earth is cursed (verse 17) “for man’s sake.” As God deals with Adam after the fall He does not give him a second curse. He saves him from the curse of death and curses the ground for man’s sake.
Suffering, for the woman (verse 16) and for the man (17–19), which Paul says is “against our will” (Romans 8:20), is part of God’s first declaration of the gospel (15–19). God has made life harder for me for a purpose and He knows the benefits of it: it is sanctified to me. If this is true, then I must learn to sanctify the pain of the present for the growth of my soul and for the greater joy of glory. If this is true, then I must learn with Paul to “rejoice” in tribulation (Romans 5:2–3). If this is true, and it is, then suffering must have a sanctifying effect on me; it must make me better and not bitter. I must learn to rejoice in it and not recoil from it. Hard lessons have rich rewards.
The prosperity of earthly health and wealth, as some teach it, will do nothing for my faith and add nothing to my hope of glory. The sorrows of earth give focus to my hope of salvation and substance to my faith. It is the prospect of victory that keeps the soldier fighting and the thought of rest that helps the working man endure his day’s work. They are the darkness before the dawn.
Everywhere the greater joy is ushered in by the greater pain. Augustine (Confessions, Bk. VIII)