As America faces an outbreak of COVID-19, a virus that has brought about thousands of deaths around the world, we are walking through a season of uncertainty. Uncertainty in the economic ramifications, uncertainty in healthcare availability, uncertainty in food and lifestyle supplies, and even uncertainty in spiritual matters. The truth is that uncertainty in all other areas of life affects our faith in some way or another.
I know there are some who think that any uncertainty is a lack of faith. I get where you’re coming from, but I do not live there.
Perhaps the person who had the purest relationship with God was Adam. The thrilling account of creation reaches its highest point when God creates man in his image. We are captivated by the beauty of the pristine Garden of Eden, the perfect companion that God created for Adam, and the timeless picture painted of a time when everything was “good”. There was nothing to come between God and his created beings. The humans walked in the garden with purpose, unashamed and unencumbered with cares and regrets. Bible readers may find it hard to turn the page from Genesis 2 to Genesis 3 with its chilling beginning, “Now the serpent was more crafty…”. The fall comes predictably to us, we know the story too well. But for Adam and Eve, this was a shift in their very existence.
The purity of their walk with God in the glades of Eden has now experienced a disappointing turn. The heartbreaking picture of their ruined relationship with God is spelled out in Genesis 3:8. “And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the Garden.” I doubt anyone who can read these words needs an explanation for why these two hid from the Lord. Into the strong, pure, beautiful, pristine relationship the first couple had with God came the tinge of shame. Suddenly, instead of finding consolation in the sound of those footsteps in the garden, there is uncertainty. What has transpired leaves Adam and Eve feeling that the Lord wouldn’t want to see them – and they didn’t want to see Him.
Our own sin brings a sense of uncertainty into our relationship with God. When asked, Adam said that he hid because he was afraid and naked (Genesis 3:10). Everything we are is naked before God our Father, and that includes the things that bring us the most shame. Those are the things we think about late at night while we try to fall asleep. We do not have to live in shame, but so often it holds a power over our minds and hearts. Along with Adam, we wonder if the inward things we know about ourselves are exposed to God, why would he want anything to do with us? We can hide behind our excuses, our explanations, and our extenuating circumstances, but in quiet moments our eyes turn downward and we hope God isn’t as near as we know he is.
Pain and suffering can result in a sense of uncertainty. Adam and Eve both experienced pain and suffering they had not known before when they trusted the Serpent more than they trusted the Creator. We do not have any record of their thoughts or feelings about the consequences of the Fall, including being banished from Eden. Even later, when one of their sons kills the other, I wish we had some insights into their thoughts during that time of crisis and hurt. I can’t comprehend the contrast between their time in the garden and their time in the new world where the impact of sin was felt all around.
I know how we feel when pain and heartache come our way. I know how I feel when the unexpected happens and there are tears and troubles. I begin to wonder if God is near. I think about how powerful God is, how many prayers I’ve prayed, and how the pain continues anyway. Sometimes I contemplate how troubles in life can cause us to wonder if it’s worth it. “…For you are dust, and to dust you shall return” (Genesis 3:19). In the Psalms we find the same wondering. Where are you God?
Accepting God’s grace and mercy is the answer to our uncertainty. In spite of all of our feelings to the contrary, we can believe that God truly loves and accepts us. “And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them” (Genesis 3:21). Is anyone besides me surprised at this move of mercy? How many of us would have told this rebellious pair that they had made their own bed and now they have to lie in it! They were fine in the garden, naked and unashamed. Now they were hiding and turning red-faced at their exposure. And God cared about that. We have no further record of their life outside the garden, aside from bringing children into the world. Genesis 5:5 tells us that Adam lived 930 years. We think 100 years is a long time to live. I can’t imagine that Adam and Eve didn’t have any more failures, uncertainties, regrets over the next near century. We are not told what they saw, as the primitive world developed around them over hundreds of years.
In my imagination, I believe that in his 929th year Adam may have told generations of grandchildren about the time he really messed up, ended up naked in the bushes hiding from God, but being covered by His love and mercy. Could anything have meant more to him in his life? Can anything mean more to us? In our uncertainty, shame and nakedness we hide. We cover our tracks, lie, and pretend … but when God comes near he sees the truth of who we really are. And he moves to cover. He forgives. He accepts. He loves.
In a season of uncertainty, find your composure and peace in the presence of God who knows you thoroughly … and loves you anyway. In a time of isolation, try to remember now more than ever that out here hope remains.