To the woman he said, “I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children.” To Adam he said, “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life… By the sweat of your brow, you will eat your food until you return to the ground.”
The natural order of things is that there are consequences to sin, from light and cautionary to devastating and life altering: a speeding ticket will lead to a fine but murdering someone will get one locked up for a lifetime. Newton’s third law describes the action-reaction principle as: the force exerted by one object upon another, resulting in a physical response equal in magnitude. Similarly, the spiritual law of sin-suffering is clear throughout the Scriptures and plainly stated in Galatians 6:7 “…whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”
Human nature is not compatible with pain and it always seeks to satisfy its own lusts and pleasure. For this reason, man’s natural tendency is to run away from it, even when the suffering is a consequence of his own rebellion and sin.
In the garden of Eden, God said to Adam and Eve: “Ye shall not eat of it [tree of knowledge of good and evil], neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die”; Satan retorted that “Ye shall not surely die” (Genesis 3: 3, 4). In perfect alignment with Satan’s ancient strategy, humans defy God’s spiritual laws, and more so with each generation that passes: abortions can now be performed for less than $1000 and help the sexually immoral to feel ‘absolved’, heroin users numb their pain through their addiction, big spenders satisfy their covetousness with the illusion of wealth, and when too much spending has taken place, declaring bankruptcy provides a way to being a debt free.
Of course, the ultimate consequence of our sin nature was paid on the cross by Jesus Christ. But until we leave this planet, God may or may not choose to free us from the negative consequences of our sins. When He does, it is simply because of his profound love and mercy. Nevertheless, in His righteousness, He may allow the consequences of sin to be fully expressed in our life. He knows what is best for each person and in each circumstance. As Christians, it is our duty to submit to His will and accept all circumstances, trusting that He knows what is best for us. We can and should ask for God’s deliverance… but until that day comes, we must settle in our current circumstances and remember that “He disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son” (Hebrews 12:6).
When deliverance is not granted immediately upon request, let us embrace the difficulties and draw from them every lesson we possibly can. The danger of not yielding and learning is that God will often allow similar consequences to recur until a particular sin has been dealt with completely. As God uses suffering to draw us closer and do His work in us, let us embrace it even though “no discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it” Hebrews 12:11.