“By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground. . . .”
— Genesis 3:19
In the very beginning, God gave to Adam and Eve all the seed-bearing plants for food (Genesis 1:29). But after the fall into sin, God tells them that one of the consequences of their sin is that they will have to work hard for their food. The word translated here as “food” is the Hebrew word lehem, which means “bread.” This means bread is so vital that it basically refers to everything that sustains life. Essentially this refers to all food, not just what we call bread. In the context of these sobering words, bread symbolizes our vulnerability and even our mortality as our bodies go back to the very dust we are made from.
Today people still have to work hard to grow and buy food—or in some cases, to wait in long lines for food.
Notice, however, that the ground is cursed and the serpent is cursed but that the people and the food are not cursed. Though we suffer the impacts and consequences of sin, we still experience some measure of blessing: the ground still produces food. And because our mortal bodies will not live forever, the time needed to work hard for food is limited. This is a kind of mercy in disguise. This difficulty also foreshadows the tremendous gift it is that God provides bread, and that in the end God himself is our bread.
Lord, have mercy on us. Life is not easy, and we endure the consequences of sin all around us. Forgive us, we pray, and give us this day our daily bread. Amen.