The Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all cattle, and above all wild animals; upon your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” To the woman, He said, “I will greatly multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children, yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” And to Adam He said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eat of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life; and you shall eat the plants of the field. In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; you are dust and to dust you shall return.” The man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living. And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins, and clothed them. Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil; and now, lest he put forth his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat and live forever”—therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from which he was taken. He drove out the man; and at the east of the garden of Eden He placed the cherubim, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.
Genesis 3: 14-24
One of the problems with interpreting the Bible literally is how did one man, Adam, and one woman, Eve, populate the world when the Bible says that they had two sons, Cain and Abel, and then another son named Seth, who replaced Abel after Cain killed him? Adam and Eve are figurative names, Adam meaning “humanity” and Eve meaning “Mother.” The fall of Adam was not just the fall of one man, but the fall of all of humanity. 
There is a lot to be unpacked in the verses we covered today, both literally and figuratively, which lead to answers to why bad things happen. One reason why bad things happen is that we make bad decisions. In Genesis 3:16, we read that the husband would rule over the wife. That is not love. Sin is the absence of love. Bad decisions and sin go hand in hand. So one reason why bad things happen to us is that we make bad decisions. If we consistently eat poorly, we are going to develop diseases like heart disease or diabetes. If we drive a car too fast and hit another car or hit a wall, that is the result of a bad decision. 
Of course, being around other people, we are going to suffer the results of their bad decisions. Someone else drives a car too fast and hits our car, we suffer the results of their bad decision. 
We will be the cause and victim of sins of both commission and sins of omission. What is the difference? A sin of commission is done intentionally. A person chooses to hit another person, or steal from them, or curse at them. This is a sin of commission. It is intentionally doing something wrong. The sin of omission is failing to do something right. For instance, if we hear someone screaming for help and we do not render aid to them, that is a sin of omission, it is failing to do what we know is the right thing to do. 
When the Fall happened, part of its consequence was that human beings knew the difference between good and evil, and had a constant tension between the two. A temptation to do evil, a struggle to do good. And perhaps evil is too strong a word. I don’t think excessive eating is evil. In my mind, killing someone is evil. Thus, we rationalize in our minds that bad behavior is okay as long as it doesn’t cross the line and become evil. Perhaps it is fairer to say we struggle between right and wrong. Sometimes we knowingly cross a line between right and wrong, and sometimes, we don’t know where the line is, again to the eating example, where is the line between eating in a way that is pleasurable and one that is sinful? 
Now we go to the third cause of bad things—a disrupted “nature.” The word “nature” is kind of a tough word. We use “nature” to describe things like trees and lakes, etc., things that are uncreated. That is a good use of the word “nature.” One term I don’t agree with is the term “natural disasters.” In fact, my insurance policy at home describes natural disasters such as “hurricanes, tornadoes, and other acts of God.” Disasters are not “natural” and they are certainly not “acts of God.” In the natural world, meaning the world as God created it, there were no disturbances of the natural things. As we said yesterday, man worked, but it was not oppressive. And nature worked—there was rain and sun and wind, hot and cold, etc. but these things happened in the right proportion. There was rain but not hurricanes, sun but not drought, wind but not tornadoes, etc. At the Fall, nature fell along with humanity, and not there are “disasters in nature” (let’s call it that, because disasters are not natural, they are a result of the Fall). And so now there are excesses in nature—excessive rain which causes flooding, excessive wind which damages things, excessive drought, etc. There has been a “climate crisis” ever since the Fall. We may exacerbate that by choosing to build homes in places that flood, or pollute the atmosphere which causes other disturbances in nature. But disasters of nature have always been and will always be, because of the Fall. 
Tune in tomorrow for the fourth cause of why bad things happen.
Heavenly Father, thank You for the gift of life. Thank You that I am alive, even as I live in a fallen world. We know that the fallen world is a test, that if we survive the fallen world, we will once again enter into the Paradise that humanity enjoyed before the Fall. As I live in this fallen world, help me to make good decisions, and protect me from the bad decisions of others. I know that disasters of nature are part of this fallen world, and I ask that You help me to survive them when they occur. If they involve loss of property, provide again for me the basics. If they involve loss of plans, help me to be patient. If they involve even loss of life, bring me comfort. But above all, in whatever losses I will sustain in this life, be they because of something I did, something someone else did, or as a result of a disaster of nature, allow me always to keep my focus on Paradise, on the day when I will no longer fall victim to these things. Help me not to be a victim, but a survivor, in this world, and prepare my soul to enter in Your Paradise, Your world. Amen.
The only thing we can control is ourselves. Make good decisions. Be patient with the poor decisions of others. And accept that there will sometimes be disasters of nature. That is not how God created nature, but it is a natural consequence of the Fall. 


Fr. Stavros Akrotirianakis

Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis is the Proistamenos of St. John Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL. Fr. contributes the Prayer Team Ministry, a daily reflection, which began in February 2015. The Prayer Team now has its own dedicated website! Fr. Stavros has produced multiple books, you can view here:


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