Of course I have no idea what it means to have birth pangs in delivering a baby. Paul, of course, didn't either, but it didn't keep him from using such language in describing his deep concern and agony over the Galatian professing believers, who were being moved away from the grace that is in Jesus. In my own way, at different places, at various times, I too have agonized, though not as much for others as I would like to be the case. But oftentimes over my own life, and over life itself. It seemed just too heavy to carry, and I felt too far gone to continue going.
Enter in again, Paul's analogy of birth pangs, or travailing in birth. Personal, and in this case until Christ is formed in me. There are those issues which, if we don't meet them with faith, in the truth and love of Jesus, can become problems in which we become the problem. Enter in God's discipline. Though in love, it can be quite unpleasant, hopefully not for those around us, but certainly so, for us.
When a woman has birth pangs, of course it's not good in itself. But it is good and necessary, to help the baby be born. So the mother does what she has to do and in the end, it's more than worth all the pain and discomfort she experienced. True with us as well. When we have to go through those periods of deep anguish so that ultimately Christ might be formed in us, and our lives might be not just ourselves, but Christ living in us, we then need to be willing, and even more than willing to go through such unpleasantries, and even inward horrors and decimations.
Maybe I'm going overboard in the descriptions used, but I'm reminded of our Lord's words to Peter, about the disciples at the time of Jesus' trial and crucifixion. Satan desired to sift them like wheat, but Jesus had prayed for them, and when Peter had repented, he was to strengthen his brothers. Certainly Satan sifting us like wheat sounds like no fun at all. But our Lord is praying for us. We need to hang in there, work through the birth pangs and all that comes with it. And see, in the end, God's good will begin to be formed in us, through Jesus.
Again, hazy. Something of what I went through just yesterday. Don't know all the details of it, myself, though I know enough and the Lord knows all, of course. But true for all of us, at times.
May it be, more and more in my case a matter, not over myself, but like Paul, over others, for Jesus' sake. May I experience, in reality, something of these birth pangs so that Christ might be formed, not just in me, but in others.
What might you like to add to this?
Tomorrow: "Goldsworthy's Wall - sacrifice" from L.L. Barkat's book: Stone Crossings: Finding Grace in Hard and Hidden Places