He stood in the shadow of a gnarled oak tree, watching, as she gathered a bouquet from the field of wildflowers. His legs felt weak and his young heart pounded. He longed to go to her, to declare his love. He waited and watched.
She caught a glimpse of him under the tree as she wandered through the field. She giggled with pleasure at the thought of him. Her heart too, was beating faster than usual. She deliberately moved slowly, perhaps to tantalize, as she reached for each flower. Her arms were soon full, the sweet scent of wildflowers delighting her senses. Even more delightful was the thought of him coming to her. Her eyes glanced up, met his gaze, and she smiled an invitation.
Their young love grew and the two became one. Their days were spent together in the garden, and God would frequently join them. He told them many things about His creation and how he made the garden for their pleasure.
So life moved forward joyously. They had many adventures, exploring the garden and experiencing God's love. One afternoon while picking grapes, a bluebird landed on a vine beside them. “Could you tell me where I could find Jehovah Rapha, the healer?” the bird twittered.
Eve looked at Adam and shrugged. “We don’t know anyone by that name. The only one here is God.”
“Yes, that’s who I mean. My wife flew into a thorn bush outside the garden and has received much damage to her body. We need His help.”
“I don’t know what you mean. We don’t need a healer here in our garden. You must be mistaken about God. He is love, not a healer. We will tell Him you were here. Go now, fly away.” Eve gave a slight wave of her hand and the bluebird ascended into the azure sky and disappeared from sight.
“How odd. With such perfection here, who could need healing?” Adam shook his head as he gently wrapped an arm around Eve’s shoulder.
The next day they laughed and splashed in the babbling stream. It made beautiful music to their ears and they began to sing along with it but were interrupted by a shout. Looking around they caught sight of a scraggly sheep. “Please, quickly lead me to Jehovah Sabaoth, the protector. My family is being stalked by a pack of wolves. Jehovah Sabaoth can save us.”
“There is no one here by that name. God is here, but he is not a protector. He is love. Go back and look after your family. We will tell Him you were here.”
Sheep left the garden, hoping they would ask the Protector to come and rescue his family.
Adam and Eve soon forgot about Sheep, being so enchanted with the beauty and nourishment of the garden, and the intoxication of young love.
“Come Sweetheart. Let’s dance in the light of the moon.” Glory surrounded them as they danced the night away to the lullaby of creation.
Their song was interrupted by a moan and rustle in a nearby bush. A skinny buck stepped forward, legs trembling, chest heaving. “I am trying to reach Jehovah Jirah, the provider. My family has no food and none to find. Although we are alive, wildfire wiped out our forest and we are starving. We need help from Jehovah Jireh or we will perish!”
Adam and Eve were quite puzzled. They had abundant food and safe surroundings. Why was the deer troubled? And why did he expect their God, who is love, to provide?
Adam and Eve lived in Paradise, and knew nothing about needing to be healed, protected, or provided for. Life was perfect and the only characteristic of God they recognized was His love. After their sin forced them to leave the garden, disease, injury, suffering and starvation were very real problems . It was through these life experiences they looked to God for more than love. They realized they needed a Father who cared for them in suffering as well as in gladness. They recognized they were incapable of planning and controlling their lives. God’s many characteristics of care became evident through their trials. His love embraced them, but His mercy and compassion strengthened and comforted them. Life outside the garden required faith and trust in the goodness of God.
Perhaps that is the gift given to us in this fallen world--the ability to experience and see the full character of God, when He brings light to our darkness. Suffering often brings us to a desperate place where our search for hope opens the eyes of our heart to see all the attributes of God manifested in His love toward us.