The Baptist Testimony
Volume 56 Number 1 January/February 2010
The Word Has It
“Strengthen me according to Your word,” Psalm 119:28
MARBC Executive Director
Alright, I admit that this issue’s column title is actually two words! And two words that seem to be polar opposites. However, I believe that these two words are more closely linked than most people might think.
This was made clear to me during the past year as I listened to my wife and daughter frequently discuss the issues of childbearing. This was a conversation that I conveniently sought to avoid by finding something to do elsewhere, anywhere! But it was a topic that was impossible to avoid while visiting in the hospital room following the birth of our grandson, Connor, on May 28. At one point during our euphoria there were approximately a dozen people in the room, the majority of them female. When the conversation turned towards the trading of “war stories” by the moms in the room, the heroic men began to shuffle for the farthest corner or the nearest exit.
Actually, listening to the conversation from afar made me proud of my daughter-turned-mom. It made me grateful for my wife, who endured her own hardship for the sake of bringing into the world our little girl and only child. And, it made me appreciate again the sacrifice of my mother in order for me to be born. The discussion in that hospital room was of personal interest to me because of my love for them. Yet, it also brought a sense of bewilderment since I will never be able to fully relate to what they have experienced.
Perhaps a column titled “The Answer Man Tackles Pregnancy” demonstrates why the average male may not be the best one to help an expectant mom with important answers related to her pregnancy.
Q. Should I have a baby after 35?
A. No, 35 children are enough.
Q. I’m two months pregnant now. When will my baby move?
A. Hopefully, right after he finishes college.
Q. How will I know if my vomiting is morning sickness or the flu?
A. If it’s the flu, you’ll get better.
Q. What is the most common pregnancy craving?
A. For men to be the ones who get pregnant.
Q. What is the most reliable method to determine a baby’s sex?
Q. My wife is five months pregnant and so moody that sometimes she’s borderline irrational.
A. So what’s your question?
Q. My childbirth instructor says it’s not pain I’ll feel during labor, but pressure. Is she right?
A. Yes, in the same way that a tornado might be called an air current.
Q. When is the best time to get an epidural?
A. Right after you find out you’re pregnant. (OK, maybe a woman answered this one!)
Q. Is there anything I should avoid while recovering from childbirth?
A. Yes, pregnancy.
Q. Does pregnancy cause headaches?
A. Pregnancy causes anything you want to blame it for.
Q. Our baby was born last week. When will I begin to feel and act normal again?
A. When the kids are in college.
Pregnancy thoughts have been resurrected as our kids came to our home to celebrate Christmas with us. Besides enjoying our new grandson, we were also anticipating a phone call announcing that our niece, Sarah, had delivered her second baby (Moriah Grace indeed arrived safely.) As the ladies began to “talk shop” this afternoon after the announcement of this new arrival, I sought refuge in my office and am now writing to you. (Blame them if you don’t appreciate this column!)
So what’s my point in dealing with this topic? The oxymoronic joy of childbearing only comes as the result of enduring pain. The Bible uses this analogy to teach us an important spiritual lesson. The Apostle Paul reflects upon this in the Book of Romans, Chapter 8:
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God…For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.” (Romans 8:18-19, 22-23)
“Pain,” in the spiritual sense, points us toward the “joy” that awaits the children of God, and all of creation, upon entering the presence of Christ. A mother who is laboring in the throes of birth pangs may feel that the pain will never end. Likewise, you may feel the same way with what you are experiencing right now in your life or in your ministry.
Perhaps that is why there is an implied “joy” in relation to “pain” in the pages of Holy Scripture. Jesus delights in demanding that His followers take up their own crosses to follow Him (Mark 8:34). Paul takes pleasure in facing headlong infirmities, reproaches, needs, persecutions, and distresses because they are for Christ’s sake and produce strength in the midst of weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). James challenges Christians to count it all joy when they deal with various types of trials (James 1:2). Peter revels in the living hope of Christ that keeps the child of God secure so that he can rejoice even while being grieved by various trials (1 Peter 1:3-6). John emphasizes the joy for Christians because God’s love abides in them and casts out fear (1 John 4:16-18). Jude declares in his stirring benediction that the One who keeps Christians from stumbling and presents them faultless does this with exceeding joy (Jude 24).
Those who are enduring any type of pain should be “looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.” (Hebrew 12:2-3) Jesus declared, “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). You will be blessed by God’s labor of love.
You have His Word on it! (KEF)