In this world you will have trouble. Take heart, I have overcome the world!
Labor pain is not a pain that is easy to describe. Every woman who has birthed a babe knows. Someone once told me that I would forget the pain once the baby was in my arms. I can’t say that happened for me, but I certainly can say the memory faded quickly.
In May, I started reading the Bible from beginning to end, something I haven’t done in years. It’s easy when in Genesis and Exodus where the stories are interesting and semi-familiar. But now it has sludged to a crawl in Leviticus, but I trust it will pickup again when I hit Joshua and Judges.
But, backtracking for a second, in Genesis 3 God’s punishment for Adam and Eve for the eating-the-wrong-fruit sin captured my fascination. I returned to it a couple of times as I was reminded of the consequence.to.reward ratio for the punishments.
- For Adam and all men after him, they get to work for a living, to toil in the soil to eke out a living, his sin taking away their right to feed off the bounty at their fingertips in the Garden. So, if I read that right, their reward for their toil would be a nice mixture of salad greens and colorful veggies. (Remember per Genesis 9.3, they don’t get to eat meat until post-flood!) ~Genesis 3.17
- But for women, we got the honor to birth the babes that have and will populate the world forever, as long as it exists. With that honor comes the pain of childbirth, BUT our reward is not just a tossed salad; it’s the joy of a babe in our arms. ~Genesis 3.16
This assuredness of pain wasn’t taken away at the coming of our Lord. It wasn’t taken away by the resurrection, or by our Comforter within us.
But God gives joy after pain in so many instances in the Bible, and in our own lives.
When Jesus was explaining to the disciples that he would be going away, he used the analogy of a woman in labor, having joy at the bringing a baby into the world. Then he said,
So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice and no one will take away your joy. ~John 16.22
These disciples didn’t have the Bible laying on their laps. They couldn’t page ahead to know that Jesus would come back after dying; that Jesus would send the Spirit to comfort and teach and empower them to take his gospel into the world. They had the man they loved, the man they followed and believed in, sitting in front of them, telling them he was going away.
Then he did.
I don’t know how many of them remembered these words of Jesus. As they scattered and scurried away from the Garden in fear, did they recall and were they comforted by the hope of it?
Then he returned. And their joy must have been overwhelming.
If we have faith in the midst of our pain, in the midst of confusion and betrayal and hurt and sadness, joy will return.
God never leaves us, no matter what we are going through.
He will deliver.
They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away. ~Isaiah 35.10
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. ~Romans 8.38-39
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. ~1 Peter 5.7
In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? ~Psalm 56.4
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not be afraid. ~John 14.27
In this world you will have trouble.
Take heart, I have overcome the world!