100 Answers in 100 Days

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Sharing answers to the various questions of faith I have faced, and which others have been challenged with also.

Friday, March 29, 2013

It's a New Creation!

A few days ago our family expanded by one; my wife gave birth to a new baby boy! He's our third. And amidst the joy of having that new baby, it's hard to recall the hours and days leading up to his delivery. In fact, the joy of having this little child so far outweighs the visible discomfort of my pregnant wife, and the very audible pain she was in during labour, that it actually takes effort to try to bring it to mind. But I do recall, as my week-late wife was struggling to walk from one end of the house to the other, what I was thinking at the time...

I knew that at any time she could go into labour, and that I couldn't possibly imagine the pain of child birth. It's beyond me how women bear it. But women not only bear it, they often embrace it willingly! My wife, for one, absolutely refuses any significant pain relief. And so do many others who are, for example, offered an epidural or perhaps even a caesarean. And as I thought about it, I figured that as a parent we willingly make so many sacrifices for our children throughout their lives, and that maybe the pain of childbirth was, at least in some way, just the first of many. Consider the effect that a parent's sacrifice later on in life has on the relationship between parent and child. The child actually gets to see the reality of their parent's love for them. The words “I love you” hardly compare to the expression written in actions. And this has the same effect for the parent where we might even surprise ourselves in seeing just how much we love our children. Our actions speak to us also of just how precious our children really are to us. And I think that the pains of childbirth effect us in a similar way. One reason a woman might willingly choose to go through the full force of labour pain is to demonstrate in actions what she is willing to go through to bring her child into this world. And in a sense I'm jealous of women because of that... the bond between a mother and child is that much stronger right from the beginning. A father will have to wait a long time for the opportunity to make any kind of sacrifice for his child that even comes close in power. I'm not saying that parental love doesn't exist apart from sacrifice, but I do think it's strengthened and magnified through sacrifice.

Now, on the day that my son was born, and while my wife was in the early stages of labour, I sat in the delivery room by her side. And as I sat there I took out my phone, opened my Bible App and read. And this is what I happened to 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, the redemption of our bodies. (Romans 8:22-23)

What the Bible teaches throughout is that God made the world perfect, but through our sin the world became corrupt. Nevertheless, God will some day restore the world to perfection, including our bodies which age and fail. But this present time is likened to “the pains of childbirth”. It's like we're suffering through great pain in anticipation of that “New Creation”, which is also a term that the Bible uses. And as I read this with my former musings in the back of my mind, I realized that perhaps the effect of going through all the sufferings of this present world are to have that same effect that a woman's labour has in forging the bond between mother and child. Through our sufferings we truly begin to value that “New Creation”, and of course the bond between us and God is strengthened all the more! We too may surprise ourselves, seeing what we're prepared to go through out of love for God and out of steadfast faith in that New Creation to come.

Earlier I used the term “sacrifice” with regard to a woman's labour. And in a sense, it has always been a sacrifice, even before the days of c-sections and pain relief. A woman makes the choice to get pregnant in the first place knowing what lies ahead. But even in the moment, a woman's mental attitude toward her labour can make it a willing sacrifice or a begrudged act of necessity. Likewise, in this present world, Christ has told us to make the sacrifice of “taking up our cross daily”. This, too, can be a sacrifice purely because our attitude is right, and where our attitude is right it forges that bond of love between ourselves and God. Or the hardships of life can be lived begrudgingly, wherein no bond is forged; and perhaps only resentment towards God is left to grow? But Paul reassures us...

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. … Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? (Romans 8:18,35)

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