Labor Pains

When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. John 16:21 ESV

Labor occurs for every parent, whether you are giving birth or preparing for adoption or are the daddy waiting and planning. There is a process of preparing, anticipation and the joy of finally receiving that child you longed for. Just as there are different types of suffering for individuals, so there are different kinds of labor and I specifically don’t want to leave out those who have lost children, struggled to have them or labored intensely to foster kids or adopt them. Please know that as I share my own stories of labor, I am not unaware of the pain you also carry. I may not understand fully, but my heart goes out to each of you.

I will share from my own perspective of anticipation in labor. Nine months of preparing and excitement fill the house. Near the time of birth, a surge of energy grows within the woman entering the nesting stage. Just like any woman, I couldn’t help but clean my home from top to bottom, going beyond the norm. Everything must be ready for the arrival. My story of labor is different than others but I think that the anticipation is the same. The first pains come with excitement. It’s almost time! We will finally have our baby in our arms! Each contraction builds to a stronger pain than the next. For some of us this means hours of labor, and very intense depending on the baby.

My first child was the most difficult, as far as I recollect. I had back pain with Isaac pushing up against my tail bone. I groaned under the pressure of it, and found myself more comfortable on my stomach. However, there was one frightening moment I was forced to roll over due to lack of oxygen reaching my him. I was miserable and didn’t want to move but had no choice. I remember the nurse urging me, even scolding me to do what I needed to do. I wasn’t going to give up. The labor was constant and intense until that final push, and then suddenly it was over and I was filled with immense joy! I finally had him in my arms! I could finally see him and touch him and officially say his name for all to hear. I was excited to have visitors and show him off!

My second child wasn’t as rough as the first. Hannah took her time, even pausing for about an hour while she remained mid-canal. In fact, the pain subsided so much, we were chatting in excitement as if nothing was happening. I decided to take a whirlpool bath to urge on the labor, and it worked. I was barely in the tub when suddenly I felt her coming! Greg suddenly whisked me up into bed to deliver, while I felt like she was hanging half out (even though she wasn’t!) The cord was wrapped around her neck so the doctor quickly cut it. Again joy was there as soon as she arrived!

When my third child Zach came along, he teased me with labor pains, and I was a bit early coming to the hospital. I had to walk the halls before they would even officially check me in. Meanwhile, I became so nauseated I vomited while walking. Then I could never make up my mind which was most comfortable for his delivery. I tried several methods to ease the pain. Again, when he arrived, immense joy took over. My third child had made his way into the world.

When laboring in child birth, there is a sense of knowing it will be over soon and the hope of delivery would far surpass all I was going through. I wish I could describe those feelings more intently in writing but it seems impossible. The point is, I think we are all to see suffering on this earth as that… labor pains for a new birth. When new birth comes there is so much joy that the pain was as nothing. It was all worth it. Every ounce of pain and work, and preparations was worth the pure happiness we felt in finally having that child in our arms.

Some of my most intense laboring in parenthood was beyond the initial physical labor. Laboring to train and raise up in Christ was met often with opposition, trial and error. Motherhood was the most difficult and rewarding job I have ever done!

I believe rewards come to those who walk in obedience to Christ. All the suffering, work, tears, sweat, anguish, disappointments and grief… all will be as nothing when we wake up in utter joy with Christ in our brand new bodies with the new heavens and new restored earth. Some day this entire earth will be restored and made into something new and exciting. It will be the way the earth was meant to be without brokenness.

Read with me in Isaiah 65 as the Lord tells us what joy will be when heaven and earth are restored.

“For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; And the former things will not be remembered or come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create; For behold, I create Jerusalem for rejoicing and her people for gladness. I will also rejoice in Jerusalem and be glad in My people; And there will no longer be the voice of weeping and the sound of crying.”

I would encourage you to continue reading as Isaiah 65: 20-25 describes in detail suffering that will no longer exist, such as people dying or wearing out in their work, or having their work stolen from them. Nor will there be danger of wild animals or animals preying upon one another! There will be no more crying, no more suffering. What amazing hope!

We are tempted to feel hopelessness when hardships come around us, but IN CHRIST JESUS there is always something to look forward to eventually. Someday all this suffering will not exist. We won’t even remember the hardships because the “former things will not be remembered or come to mind.” Wow! If we are in relationship with Christ through faith, we have much to look forward to! There will be a day full of rejoicing. I think this means we will be so incredibly happy that all the pain will be nothing compared to that joy. In fact, it will be worth it! If we must get through suffering to enjoy the final peace and forever joy, should we not look at suffering as a gift, as an open door to get there?

To think about:
Are you laboring through something which currently feels like there is no end in site?
If so, can you trust God to bring your suffering in labor to an eventual joy, full of fruitful outcome for yourself and others?

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