Today's passage: John 16
"A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world. And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you."
How clearly I remember the birth of my first son. My poor husband had just worked his shift (4PM-12AM) and had barely been home an hour when my water broke. I called the doctor and was instructed to go to the hospital. I didn't have a lot of pain--at first. Around 2AM the contractions started, and were pretty much non-stop. I was expecting a breather between each one. I had been told that when they first start there might be five minutes in between narrowing within a minute of each other. Now maybe my labor was different from others, but that never happened. I would say a 30 second delay between each contraction, and that's how it proceeded for hours. I couldn't turn over in bed without a contraction, I couldn't carry on a conversation without a contraction. It was certainly more intense than I had ever expected. Around 3:30AM the nurse asked me if I wanted medication. I caved. Mostly because I had no idea how long the labor would last, and I knew I would have no strength to push when the time came. She administered Stadol which really did nothing but make me groggy. I could still feel each contraction, I was just too drowsy to be able to protest. Finally around 9AM I was given an epidural (and when you are having contractions the entire time, it certainly is nerve-wracking trying to stay still when a long needle is about to pierce your back). In short time, I couldn't feel the contractions anymore. I really pity the pioneer women. I have sympathy for the pregnant ladies during the Depression. Bless the ladies today who choose natural childbirth. You are braver than I am. I admit that I am a wimp and a sissy. I can't imagine having gone another 4 hours with the contractions I was experiencing. Thank you, Lord, for modern medicine. Around 12 PM it was time for the most strenuous part of the labor. Two hours of pushing, and finally my doctor had to use forceps to get him out. (This tells you a little about the stubbornness of my first child). I didn't cry, like I expected to when I first held him. I was just so relieved to be done with the labor process. No, the tears came later. When we were alone that first night, and I held him in my arms, I admired each tiny feature and am certain no baby ever born was as handsome as he was (until my second and third son were born, and they are the only ones that I think could ever compare). In the middle of the labor process, going through those hideous contractions (sorry expectant mothers), I remember thinking to myself, who on earth would ever do this more than once? But that night, holding my son, I understood why. Obviously, my first labor experience did not deter me from going through it two more times. I'm thankful God was more merciful with my next two labors. Each was only four hours, and far less difficult.
Jesus is about to experience the worst pain anyone could ever go through. This would be far more difficult than any woman's labor. It would be worse than the torture any man has ever experienced, and I've heard of some pretty grueling tortures. The disciples are about to sorrow as they have never sorrowed before. They are about to have their world turned upside down. They will be afraid, upset, discouraged, paranoid. They will feel deserted and alone. They will wonder what comes next. But Jesus explains to them that just as a woman goes through that pain in childbirth, it is only for a short while, then comes the joy for a lifetime. How true that is! These disciples were going to have three days of pain and confusion, but following that, they would have a glorious future. Many of them would experience death in a similar fashion as their Lord, but they would go to a Heavenly home. Jesus would die such a painful death for me. He knew the joy on the other side when I would someday accept Him as my Savior. That would be worth all the pain. If He had moments on the cross, thinking "Why am I going through this?" He would think of the many who would believe on Him. He would think of the joy He would have when each person, one by one, accepted His work on the cross as payment for their sins. He would think of the disciples boldly going forth after His resurrection and proclaiming His words. He would think of how Heaven would be filled with the people He loved. Well, not all the people He loved. There would still be many who would reject Him. There would be some at the foot of the cross who would die never believing. Knowing what He does now, knowing the suffering, the grief, the torture, the pain, would He do it again? Yes. If it was the only way to purchase our salvation, He would do it again. Why? Because it was worth it.
Would I have had another child if I hadn't had the medication that aided me through that first delivery? Absolutely. The pain was awful, but if it was the only way to have my child, then I would have no qualms repeating it. If my second and third deliveries were as intense, I would do those again too. Why? Because my kids are worth it. And for some strange reason, God thinks I'm worth it too. I don't understand why. I can only say this. Maybe somebody today reads this, and can't understand why Jesus would die the way He did. I don't understand why. I just understand that He had to. He had to do it to save our souls. Nothing we do can ever accomplish what He did on the cross. No prayer we say, no money we give, no presence in any house of worship, no kindness, no rite of baptism will ever wash away the sin nature we carry with us. Only Jesus could take care of that. It is only by believing that His death on the cross accomplished the payment for my sin, that I can have the joy that follows. It is only by going through the turmoil of recognizing my filthy sins, repenting, and accepting what Christ did for me, that I can understand the eternal joy He brought. If you have any questions about how you can know about the home in Heaven God has prepared for you, please see the page (Understanding Salvation). He went through the pain, to bring the joy. And you are worth it.