“To the woman He said:
‘I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception;
In pain you shall bring forth children;'” Genesis 3:16
“And Adam called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living.” Genesis 3:20
I have decided to do a study of mothers in the Bible. The obvious starting point is Eve, the very first mother.
We really don’t know a lot about Eve, other than that she was deceived by the serpent into taking the forbidden fruit and that she was the first mother. We are told that she gave birth to and named Cain (meaning “acquired”), saying “I have acquired a man from the Lord.” Then we are told that she gave birth to Abel, and finally that she gave birth to and named Seth (meaning “appointed” or “substituted”), saying, “For God has appointed another seed for me instead of Abel, whom Cain killed.” Of course, we also know that she gave birth to many other children, but we are not told anything about those children.
Although the other details of Eve’s life are not specified, I think we can safely assume some of them. Can you imagine giving birth that first time? Remember that first time you held your little one in your arms? Remember that awe you felt looking at those tiny fingers, those tiny toes? Remember being at a loss as how to care for such a tiny, fragile little package? Remember the relief at there being someone there – a nurse, midwife, or mother – who had experience and could show you what to do?!
Those of us who have given birth to children are very familiar with the pain promised to Eve as a consequence of her sin. Yet I wonder if the pain of childbirth itself is the only pain referred to here. Has there ever been any mother who has lived to see her children grow to adulthood who has not also known pain in watching them make wrong choices?
With some children, the pain can start early. I have one child who started throwing full-blown temper tantrums at only two months of age. I didn’t have any idea that such a thing was even possible at that age! Then there are the two-year-olds who say things like, “I hate you, Mommy,” when Mommy has just spent the whole day doing something special with the child but has had to say no to something the child asks for. As siblings come along, there are the fights between the children which grow in intensity as they get older. A child nearing puberty has increasing periods of sullenness and is more and more prone to backtalk. Children in their teens are quite certain they know better than their parents, and are quite willing to tell them just how wrongly they are handling things. And, in far too many cases, choices made in the teen and early adulthood years (or later) result in long-lasting consequences that can break their mother’s heart.
For Eve, I think it is safe to imagine that she was troubled as her oldest two children exhibited rivalry as they grew to adulthood. She likely watched in sorrow as her firstborn rejected the Word of the Lord and insisted on doing things his own way. And imagine the depth of her grief when her firstborn grew so resentful that he actually killed his brother. How many times did she weep bitterly, wondering how different things would have been if she had obeyed the Lord back in the garden?
In 3 John 1:4, John states, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.” Could it also be said that a mother has no greater sorrow than to hear that her children do NOT walk in truth?
When I was growing up, my mom used to tell me the story of my birth 7 1/2 weeks early, and how there was a point when they were not sure that I would live. She prayed at that time that if I would not grow up to know and love the Lord Jesus, that He would take me then as an infant so that she would know that I was in Heaven. I have prayed the same for each of my children. So far, I believe that 7 of my 8 children have placed their trust in Jesus. (Number 8 is only two years old.) I have 3 in Heaven who were taken before they were born, and it is a joy to know that they are safe in the Everlasting Arms.
However, I have come to realize that it is not enough just to know that my children are saved. My greatest desire for them is that they not only find forgiveness of sin, but that their lives honor and glorify the Lord.
While Eve faced the consequences of pain in bearing children, she was also given the promise that one of her descendants would be the Deliverer from sin. She was comforted after Abel’s death by the birth of Seth. While she no doubt grieved at the waywardness of many of her grandchildren and great grandchildren, she did have the joy of seeing some of Seth’s descendants walk with the Lord. I have no idea how much more time we have here on earth, but I pray that all of my descendants will walk with the Lord!