Tuesday, November 10, 2015

All The Trees

And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat… (Genesis 2:15-17)

As I study Genesis 2, it seems to me that God is quite generous in what he offered Adam. He told him that he was free to eat from all the trees in His beautiful garden. There must have been all kinds of fruit, and since sin had not entered the world yet, it must have all been perfect—without spot, rot, or worm. Imagine the abundance! What a great and generous God Adam served! How he must have praised Him, and how thankful he must have been for His love and provision!

As if all the abundance of the garden wasn’t enough, God then added all the living creatures, offering all of them to Adam to have dominion over, and to rule. Then, the crowning blessing—he gave him a wife! How blessed Adam must have felt, and how happy! But we all know what comes next, right? The serpent enters the picture and tempts Adam’s wife, Eve. The account in Genesis 3 tells us that the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field. His goal was to make Eve doubt God’s goodness.

But let’s backtrack a minute here. Pause with me and imagine that you are Eve, standing in the midst of the Garden of Eden. It is a glorious sight. There are many trees, and you have access to all of them—except that one. Then comes the serpent: “Has God really said that you can’t eat of any tree in the garden?” Eve replies that of course that’s not the case. We can eat from any of the trees except that one in the middle.

This is the turning point for Eve. The Serpent has come to make her doubt the goodness of God. He wants her to believe that God is withholding something good from her. She begins to look at the tree differently. Suddenly, the fact that she can’t have it begins to be a problem. Now, there are a lot of things we could say about this moment, but I’d like us to focus on just one fact: God has given Adam and Eve everything they need, without ever having to eat from this tree. Yet, the fruit of this tree is the one thing that she begins to want. She sees it, and she wants it. She is now discontent, and will not be able to rest until she has the fruit of that tree on her lips.

Eve has good reason, in her human mind, to want the fruit of that tree. She can see that it is good for food, that it is pleasant to the eyes, and that it will make her wise. She can think of no reason why she should not eat of it.  Maybe she thinks it’s not fair that she can’t have it. Maybe she thinks, if God really loved her, he would not keep this one thing from her. As she focuses on the tree in the middle of the garden, she loses sight of the others. She is no longer grateful for those trees. She is no longer praising God for his generosity, but instead she is grumbling against God for his withholding of this good thing.

My friend, are you like Eve? In your suffering and pain, has God given you a garden of blessings? Has He comforted you, sustained you, and guided you? Has He freely given you His Word, heard your prayers, and counted your tears? If you belong to the Lord, the answer to those questions is yes. Yet, you long for the one thing to which, at least for now, he has said no. You desire healing and pain relief, and that is simply not happening.

Oh, dear one, do you see all the trees in the garden? Think back, and dwell on the many blessings the Lord has brought into your life, even in your suffering. You know that they are there, even if they have become obscured by your longing for the forbidden tree. One thing is sure: As long as you are looking at and longing for that forbidden fruit, the produce of the other trees will seem pale and tasteless. You will be stuck in self-pity and distrust of God and His goodness. My fellow sufferer, it does not have to be this way!

Begin now to lift up your head and look around at the other trees in the garden, to which God has said, “Taste, enjoy, and eat as much as you want!” He has blessed you abundantly, and you will see that when you take your eyes off that one tree and begin to walk around the garden of His goodness, plucking the fruit and enjoying its sweetness. The farther you get away from that forbidden tree, the broader will be your perspective to see how very many blessings are in your garden.