A few years ago, I found this passage:
The King of Assyria is threatening God’s people, and good King Hezekiah is badly outnumbered.
And they said to him, “Thus says Hezekiah: ‘This day is a day of trouble and rebuke and blasphemy; for the children have come to birth, but there is no strength to bring them forth. It may be that the LORD your God will hear the words of the Rabshakeh, whom his master the king of Assyria has sent to reproach the living God, and will rebuke the words which the LORD your God has heard. Therefore lift up your prayer for the remnant that is left.’” Isaiah 37:3-4
Hezekiah recognized he was unable in his own strength to meet his powerful enemy. He compares his inability to a woman who has labored and is depleted of strength, before her baby has been born. Happily, Hezekiah didn’t stop at bemoaning his insufficiency. He says “It may be that the Lord your God will hear…. Therefore lift up your prayer for the remnant that is left.” Hezekiah calls on the Lord, and God miraculously intervenes.
I love the imagery here. I understand it! Now, today, what I’m thinking is that labor pains give us another point of comparison in the spiritual life.
Last night, Lee and I talked a bit about how a mother’s memory for pain diminishes after she gives birth. If you asked me today, I’d tell you that childbirth is no big deal, with or without pain meds (I’ve done it both ways). But I know that’s not exactly true. What is true is that the result of the pain was something gloriously exciting: the babies God gave us on those days.
I was thinking how our circumstances seem large and looming sometimes. Our children aren’t learning to be respectful as quickly as we expect. They still haven’t learned to pick up after themselves. They are easily overwhelmed and quick to take offense. We’re trying to teach them God’s Word, and even when we tell them how happy God is when they love each other, they inexplicably choose to please themselves instead!
As our children go through these bumpy stages, I’ve noticed that the memory of how challenging each stage was diminishes. It’s encouraging to me today, in the midst of today’s challenges, to know that my perception of these challenges will diminish. It will be worth it all, says the song, when we see Jesus.
Now Jesus knew that they desired to ask Him, and He said to them, “Are you inquiring among yourselves about what I said, ‘A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me’? 20 Most assuredly, I say to you that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy. 21 A woman, when she is in labor, has sorrow because her hour has come; but as soon as she has given birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. 22 Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you. John 16:19-22
Even though it was 11 years ago now, I remember very well what I felt like after 33 hours of labor and 3 more hours of pushing. I literally felt like I could not go on. That verse is encouraging. Now if I can remember that feeling, apply it to what’s got me discouraged today, and remember to cry out to the Lord as I did then, I may find hope in the midst of my weariness. 🙂
Yes! What is comforting to me is that Jesus compares that labor to life on earth without him. If it feels like travail on earth some days, it’s simply a reminder that life doesn’t work without Christ. It’s not that we need our troubles to go away; we are, in fact, longing for Christ to come. Even so, Lord Jesus, Come!
I’ve been meaning to thank you for this post. This week has been a major “growth-spurts” week for us (particularly for the mommy). Your words encouraged me to forge ahead and fight a good fight (against my own flesh). Thank you.
Seda, I’m glad that you were encouraged. I’m praying for you this morning! I’m still thinking about this passage. What is interesting to me is that, even when life is “going well” there’s still a sense that all is not as it should be– labor pains that will disappear when Jesus returns. Aha! Isn’t metaphor wonderful?