childbirth | John 16.21-24
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. In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full. John 16:21-24 | ESV
“Childbirth – oh the pain when an expectant mother’s hour comes in all of that hard labor! Ah, but when the child is born, the vivid experience of all those contractions, all that hard work, fades into the background as she weeps tears of joy, holding that child – another human being enters the world!
Now you’re gutted with pain and grief – but then you’ll see me right before you again and your heart will leap with joy – and this joy will last a lifetime – no one and nothing will touch it. And when that day comes, you won’t being asking me anything – you won’t need to. God’s truth: you’ll be on such intimate terms with Abba that you’ll be dialoguing with him yourself, you asking what you will because of your connection with me, him responding with open arms. You haven’t asked Abba anything because of this rich connection (no doubt due to the fact I’m right here!) – this will be a new habit: ask, and watch him respond – and watch your joy go through the roof.” MAV
Childbirth: the ultimate human transition – and during the mother of all transitions that is childbirth, the “transition” stage marks the last stage of active labor, as summarized by babycenter.com:
“The last part of active labor – when your cervix dilates from 8 to a full 10 centimeters – is called the transition period because it marks the shift to the second stage of labor. This is the most intense part of labor. Contractions are usually very strong, coming every two and a half to three minutes or so and lasting a minute or more, and you may start shaking and shivering. By the time your cervix is fully dilated and transition is over, your baby has usually descended somewhat into your pelvis. This is when you might begin to feel rectal pressure, as if you have to move your bowels. Some women begin to bear down spontaneously – to “push” – and may even start making deep grunting sounds. There’s often a lot of bloody discharge. You may feel nauseated or even vomit now.”
The site then adds, “Transition can take anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours.”
I’ve watched my wife experience the trauma and triumph of childbirth five times. Moms have a unique understanding of this experience – and fortunately none of us remember the trauma we went through being born.
But we know it in life.
Male or female, if we live long enough we know all too well our own “transition period” when a cancer diagnosis, a death, a divorce, a career ending brings us into very strong contractions that we wish just lasted a few minutes. We know the shaking and shivering, we know the pressure, we feel the deep grunting sounds emanating from deep within our own throats, and the whole experience leaves us feeling nauseated and vomiting emotionally, spiritually, physically.
But then the head of new life crowns, literally pulled from the body of our former existence, the cord to the old is cut, and newness is literally laid in our arms. And we have never felt more alive.
Jesus tells his disciples – and us – “Yes. This path with me, this life. Yes. It’s like that.”
Where in your life are you feeling strong contractions? What can help you to breathe through them? What birth in your life have you most recently celebrated? What happened?
Lord, coach me through the hard contractions of life when they bear down on me. Be my center then, be the gentle hand upon me, the tender voice in my ear – as well as the loud voice telling me it’s time to push! And let me see past the pain of it all to the new life you lay in my arms – whatever it may look like. Through Christ.