Friday, February 22, 2008

The Rewards of Childbirth

“He has caused us to be born again to a living hope . . . to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away . . . In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials.” 1 Peter 1:3-6

I was never a superwoman about childbirth. I have friends who swore by natural childbirth, feeling it was the only way to fully embrace the experience. Not me. I would walk into the hospital when in labor and say, “Hello, I’m Julie Coleman. I would like an epidural. Please have the anesthesiologist standing by.” Yes, I am a wimp.

Because it hurts to have a baby! Childbirth is not pleasant. Many women know this because they have had a child. Most husbands know this because they have been there with their wife as she delivered. Actually, some husbands still don’t really get it. One friend of mine was in the middle of hard labor, and her husband said to her, “Oh C’mon, Deb. It’s not that bad.” Another couple we know were up front in church for their baby’s dedication. In front of God and everybody, the husband took the mike in answer to the pastor’s question and said, “It was an easy labor and delivery.” The look on his wife’s face was priceless.

I guess it’s no secret that childbirth is not something a woman looks forward to. Then why does she allow herself to become pregnant? Because the baby at the end of the labor is worth it all.

When I went into the hospital with my firstborn, I didn’t know what to expect. I had watched all of the videos in childbirth class, so I had an inkling that most of the process wouldn’t be pleasant. However, there is nothing like the real thing to blow all of our denial right out of the water. I fainted when they put in an IV line. That didn’t bode well. I was actually being induced, because Adam was nine days overdue. Once they administered the inducing drug, it was hard labor right away. I got through a couple of hours of that, and when they offered the epidural, I said yes without even having to think about it. That was some wicked pain! Adam was turned around, and there was some concern that they would end up taking him C-section. But after two hours of pushing, he turned on his own. The whole labor took about seven hours from start to finish. Finally, our beautiful baby boy was in our arms.

Even with the pain of labor very fresh in my mind, I remember thinking as I gazed into the beautiful face of my baby the next morning that I would do it all over again to have this precious bundle in my arms. The reward was worth the agony. He meant more to me than anything else, including my own comfort.

This is why Peter wrote what he did to his brothers and sisters in Christ. They were experiencing persecution because they were Christians. Nero, the emperor of the Roman Empire, was persecuting Christians with gusto. To be aligned with Jesus Christ was a life-risking association. They needed some perspective to help them through those terrible days. So Peter gave them hope.

It is interesting to see that the hope Peter offered was not in promises of a good life in the here and now. Instead he pointed them toward their eternal hope, an inheritance which would never fade away. A spot in Heaven already reserved for them.

Too often I hear preachers try to encourage their listeners with promises in the here and now. While life with Christ is infinitely better than life without Him, I don’t really see a big Scriptural premise to keep our focus on what He will do for us in this life. Jesus promised His disciples, “In this world you will have trouble.” He wasn’t kidding.

But the reward at the end of the journey will be worth it all. Like the sweet baby in my arms, which made me certain I would gladly endure labor all over again to have him, we will look at what we have endured and know it was worth it all. It will be a glorious day.


Heather Nicole said...

How encouraging is this! (and for me, on many levels indeed!)

Thanks so much for all that you write. Your words are inspiring and thoughtful. I love to read this blog!

Anonymous said...

Thank you