Enduring Agony for the Hope of Baby and Glory

Last night I had an eye-opening experience that made me close my eyes for fear that they would be dissolved into nothing. Lindsey and I attended the first of four birthing classes at the hospital where she’ll deliver. After an hour and a half the instructor put a video in. Now growing up, I looked forward to videos. They meant either entertainment or sleep–both of which are good. So I watched the video last night thinking all the while, “No way they’ll show us an actual birth the first night.” Yes way. Full disclosure.

I’m not downplaying the miracle of birth–it’s wonderful and I look forward to having lil’ Ben here. But what struck me even more than the explicit scene, of which I’m forever deleting, was the amount of pain the women experienced. It reminded me of one night when Lindsey walked by me as I was sitting in my leather chair reading a book and with no expression looked at me and asked, “What’s your curse again?” Well played honey. She’s talking, of course, about the curse placed on men and women by God for he rebellion of Adam and Eve.

This morning I’ve been preparing a sermon on suffering and evil and how we reconcile that with the reality of a good and loving God. Romans 8.18-25 is the text, and it’s remarkable how God lined this up for me. Verses 22-23 read: “For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons (and daughters), the redemption of our bodies.”

That phrase “pains of childbirth” never meant much to me. I mean, I knew it hurt women, but to see it…and now, to know that Lindsey’s going to experience it…it’s more real than ever. But I’m reminded of the most marvelous truth of the Christian faith, namely, that though we experience suffering, pain, and evil now, there’s a glory that is eternally more beautiful and satisfying than even a newborn awaiting those who call on the name of Jesus Christ as Master and Savior. To think and focus solely on the pain of childbirth is to miss the point. The consummation of that pain is a child! How much more does our Heavenly Father have waiting for his children? Body and spirit united in perfection to enjoy a perfectly renewed creation.

May we suffer and endure well.

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