In the birthing room where our son Wyatt entered the world, my wife Miska held to her desire for a natural birth, aided only by my uncertain encouragement and the gentle massages of her doula (a birthing coach). As Miska’s contractions grew only a minute apart, the pain intensified. Contrary to the zealous stories of natural birth “love sessions and moms “squealing with delight,” this was no giffy affair. Giving birth is painful.
Mark records Jesus’ allusion to the pain of birth. His disciples asked how they would know when the end of the age had come, inaugurating God’s ultimate Kingdom reign. Rather than answering directly, He revealed the path God’s plan would follow. Jesus said there would be disturbing events–violent wars, chaos and natural disasters –which were simply the “beginning of birth pains.” These distress-filled days were necessary to birth a kingdom, one that would be worth all the agony. The passing affliction would introduce a far better day: God’s day.
This is a spiritual axiom: the work of God in our heart is often birthed in pain. As much as I cringe to acknowledge it, this will be true for our son Wyatt. While filled with delight over his entrance into the world, there is also an undertone of sorrow. I fear, for I know the suffering of the world he enters. I fear for the pain I know will greet him in this life–pain from which I can offer no protection. But as much as I grieve, I also rejoice. Each of us must face birthing pains if we are ever to move deeper into our calling.
These moments of agony connect us with our brokenness, and we see our need for a Savior. God may graciously wound us –as severe as it may be at times –to allow us to embrace the story of the Gospel. These passing wounds will give birth to something far better than a mere leisurely life: a person deeply connected with his God, intensely aware of his brokenness and free to follow the path of God’s design.
We cherish the absence of pain and do much to guard it. However, God seeks to birth in us something far more valuable than the absence of pain: the fruit of pain’s deep soul-plowing. Without pain, we are unable to connect with the depth of our desperation for God. Without pain, we cannot embrace the wonder of the Gospel. Without pain, we cannot see the Kingdom of God fully birthed in our souls.
God, I sense that I don’t trust you I don’t trust that You are good even when I experience pain – in fact, that You are good because You allow pain. Help me to trust. Help me to follow, through pain, deeper into You.