This Spring, a Robin built her nest in this wreath on our front door. I watched as she wove the nest, mudded it, and then made it into a soft bed for her family to be.
Over the next few days I got pictures of three blue eggs and then babies barely able to lift their heads. But four days later I found the nest empty. In the Hawthorne tree a few feet overhead the mother bird noisily tried to distract me.
Since the nest seemed undisturbed, and seeing no evidence on the ground, the only thing I could come up with is that she was robbed either by a bluejay, or by one of our own.
Today, while thinking again about what might have happened I remembered another loss that used to confuse and trouble me. As the Lord God rewrote the broken Law for his idolatrous family, he described himself as a, “Compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.”
“Yet”… on the heels of the promise of such blessing… a curse. “Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation” (Exodus 34:6-7)
Because words and passages of Scripture can be interpreted in different ways, Bible translations may not always do justice to the heart of the God who “punishes” the children and their children for the sin of the parents.” The Hebrew word translated “punish” by the NIV in Exodus 34:7 is more commonly rendered “visit” or “lay”. The implication seems to be that a gracious God who is full of mercy and compassion, nevertheless, wants us to know that a world infected by distrust and human error is different than the paradise of trust that has been lost.
The rest of the Scriptures show that even this natural law of sowing and reaping is broken. While we sometimes suffer for our own sin— that’s not always the case. Job and Jesus didn’t. Yet because the infection leaves no one and nothing untouched, all creation groans with the spirit of our humanity (Rom 8:22-23) and with the Spirit of our God (Rom 8:26).
So, as we sing in wonder— and groan under the curse (Gen 3:16-24), the question lingers: Would it have been more merciful, compassionate, and gracious of our God to cover our nakedness— without evidence of what happened to us, to our understanding of Him, and even to all nature— in the curse of a Paradise Lost?
Note: My apologies for the questions raised by the earlier version of this last paragraph. I hope the question now makes more sense…