I’ve had some really bad moments in my life. But I’m not sure that any of them could compare to the horror of the moment when Adam and Eve stepped out of the Garden and into the fallen world. When they reached the other side of the guarded gate, did they realize the enormity of their sin? Were they filled with despair realizing the consequences of their disobedience? Were they overcome with regret at what might seem overwhelmingly harsh? Or is it possible that there’s another way of looking at what occurred? I caught the possibility of this in one short verse as I was rereading Genesis.

Then the LORD God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—” (Gen. 3:22 ESV).

For the first time, the Holy Spirit illuminated for me that getting kicked out of the Garden of Eden came with an element of loving discipline, which God always includes when we’re disobedient. In His mercy, God protected Adam and Eve from the ultimate damnation: an eternity condemned in sin.

Because Adam and Eve had engaged in sin, God couldn’t allow them to eat the fruit from the Tree of Life and live forever in their sinful state. He separated Adam and Eve temporarily from His presence on earth to prevent them from eternal separation of His presence in heaven. God was providing for them, not merely punishing them.

Did they understand the grace God extended to them? I certainly hope so. As many times as we have joked about giving Adam and Eve dirty looks when we get to heaven, are they no less deserving of grace than we? From our human perspective, it may seem like God should have given Adam and Eve a second chance. But Scripture reveals that the Lord had a grand plan behind the choice He knew they would make. And He knew that option would ultimately lead them to the place where they would be eternally with Him, never to be separated from Him or His love again.

While the Bible doesn’t elaborate, perhaps God explained how to them how His act of mercy fit into His eternal plan. Or perhaps an angel ministered to them in quiet whispers in the night so they would know of God’s continuing love and care. Or perhaps they were comforted in knowing someday that the Son of Man would be born and fulfill his mission as Savior to make it right.

May we have reassurance that no matter what the coming year brings, His grace is sufficient, and His promises are still in effect. Romans 8:28 is a law not of the land, but of the Lord, who still reigns supreme above any other man or king. May we rest in his love, no matter what our view looks like from this side of heaven.