Genesis 3:17-19 A Curse That Becomes a Blessing

Gen. 3:17   And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life

Genesis 3:18 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you;
and you shall eat the plants of the field.

Genesis 3:19 By the sweat of your face
you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground,
for out of it you were taken; for you are dust,
and to dust you shall return.”

Sometimes I like to imagine what it must have been like in the Garden of Eden before Adam and Eve sinned against God (Genesis 3:6) because Scripture explains it as being perfect.

  1. No pain or suffering
  2. No frustration/anger
  3. And most importantly no death

However following Adam and Eve’s rebellion their relationship with God (Genesis 3:7–10) and one another (Genesis 3:11–13) was completely broken [1]. A curse from God then followed that meant (particularly for Adam) the world was broken as well (Genesis 3:17–19).

A big part of this curse God placed upon the earth is production or provision for Adam’s family will come as a result of hard work. Instead of everything being caused to grow by God (Genesis 2:5–6, 2:9) it’s now Adam’s responsibility to bring growth. The Lord is clear that instead of being easy like before their rebellion, this will take incredibly hard work [2].

But the curse goes much deeper than just creating a need for work.  God here is taking the thing that Adam and Eve find their greatest identity (happiness) in and instead turning it into a source of frustration.

Eve’s greatest joy was found not only in a close relationship with her husband, but having children and nurturing them. I’m in no way saying that all women have to have a child in order to validate themselves. Instead females have been given gifts that lead more towards the nurturing of children than men.

God responded by making this a source of pain.

Gen. 3:16   To the woman he said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children.

Note that this doesn’t just refer the act of childbirth, but the raising “bringing forth” of children will bring pain or sorrow to the life of Eve [3].

Adam’s greatest joy was in providing for his family, or being “productive” by completing difficult tasks. Again this doesn’t men cannot be nurturing because I happen to be a male who has gifts in that area. But in most cases a man feels most fulfilled when they are able to provide and care for their family.

Today instead of being a source of identity production and provision is almost always a source of frustration because it calls for incredibly hard work [4].

Why would God do that?

Seriously why would He take the things that Adam and Eve enjoyed the most, or found the most happiness in, and then turn them into a curse?

The answer is our identity is only to be found in God [5]. As His creation, we were literally made to be “plugged into” Him as our source of strength or hope. Unfortunately we are sinners who given a choice between God’s way and our own will choose ours twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year.

God knows that we will choose things other than him as our source of identity or strength. But He also knows that nothing else is big enough to bring us true happiness.

Here’s how author Matt Papa explains it;

The triune God is the only thing large enough and interesting enough to bear the weight of glory, and ultimately worship. Anything else will break your heart [6]

Knowing this “idol” [7] will break our heart God in His sovereignty takes it away from us.

As that thing we love most is ripped out of our hands [8] we will be tempted to curse God . But in those moments we must remember that thing he takes away will only break our hearts.



[1]: Instead of confessing their sin, Adam and Eve tried to hide their failure from God, and refused to confess it

[2]: it will bring thorns and briers (thistles) instead of plants

[3]: there will be many sorrows and frustrations now because of broken selfish relationships

[4]: There is still satisfaction after a job well done, but the amount of work involved in finishing that job definitely makes things difficult

[5]: Acts 17:24–25

[6]: Papa, Matt (2014–10–28). Look and Live: Behold the Soul-Thrilling, Sin-Destroying Glory of Christ (p. 33). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

[7]: something we find our identity in other than God

[8]: money, relationships, control, etc.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s