"but the serpent said to the woman, 'you will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be open'". Genesis 3:3.
Collateral damage. It's often an irritation, like storm damage, but often, it's viewed as something we think we can deal with, especially if we apparently 'gain' something (winning an argument, a business deal, a termination to a relationship, or an armed conflict) we want when it's experienced.
By the end of the first world war, it was estimated that around 60% of the 9.7 million casualties were soldiers killed by shrapnel from the millions of shells that had been used. What was not realized until after the conflict had ended was the devastation was much greater than was contained in those dreadful figures.
In the years that followed the carnage, it was realized that a further 200,000 men were suffering from what came to be termed 'shell shock' - they had been so profoundly traumatized by being close to exploding shells that many of them lost their hearing or sight or speech, even though there was no physical damage.
Today, we have learned that many others suffer from variations of this misery under the panacea of what is termed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Essentially, we close down and disconnect when the momentous sheering forces of life become too much and we begin to come apart because we're just not equipped to cope.
The reason for our malady is an old one...
The real, abiding damage was done to us in that moment in Eden, when we believed we were smart enough to walk out of the sphere of our Creator's care and go it alone - to bequeath ourselves to self-centered 'gnosis' (a blind alley grab for power) rather than be nurtured and sheltered by a Father's unending love.
Our expulsion to the consequences of our actions (the alienation God described to Adam and Eve in Genesis 3) was for one purpose - to get us to call for help.
The truth is, like those brutalized men of war, we are broken and bleeding from the inside, and we need a rescue that is far greater than we can imagine - but the remedy, thankfully, far exceeds our failings.
Christ came and bore the full measure of the agony of what we are and where we have fallen. His breaking of Himself is our healing - our promise that the cycle of sin and the horror of death will be exhausted and we can be enveloped in a depth of life that comes from God once again - to be made whole by the only one who can truly heal our wounds.
Here's how the Prophet Isaiah speaks of this amazing truth...
He would be despised and rejected by men, a man marked by sorrow, aquatinted with grief, despised and evaluated as worthless,
but it would be Him who bore our griefs and carried our sorrows,
stricken and smitten of God, and afflicted,
He was wounded for our transgressions and crushed for our iniquities,
for on Him would fall the chastisement for our peace,
and by the stripes He received, we would be healed.
The oppression, affliction and violence of life are so very real,
but so is the one who can return us to a Father's amazing love.
This is the message that is the sweet aroma God has placed in our broken world - God has come to us in Jesus Christ, that we might indeed be free.
We tend to try and mask the damage we carry behind our pride and masks of 'I'm fine', but ultimately, they will slip and we will be the ones found to be bleeding and dying, and all that we trusted will be found hollow. Only the one who has reached to the very depths of our need and our severance can raise us once more.
The burden can be shared and made light, and true shelter, within everlasting arms, is close at hand.
Draw close, and He will hear and answer in the gift of His beloved Son.