Labor, New Life, and Our Heavenly Father
For this blog post, I recommend you read Romans chapter 8. The whole thing. It’s one of my favorite chapters in the entire Bible. Verses 18-30 are what we are especially going to focus in on here. Pastor Jake preached on this passage just this last week, so hopefully you’ll see some common threads.
As many of you know, my son, Rachell’s and my first child, was born on October 24, at 5:11 a.m. Understandably, this recent event weighs greatly in all of my thoughts right now. Little James David Highley is doing well and Rachell is doing well. But I have to tell you, there were times around 1:00 a.m. I didn’t see how either of those things could ever be the case.
I had never been around a woman in labor before. I had seen such things on TV. Most of the time on TV, things are overly dramatized. I have to say, I think TV actually undersells it. Rachell was experiencing cluster contractions, that is to say, contractions without any sort of break in between them, as we had been led to believe was to be expected. I watched helplessly as my wife, whom I adore, experienced pure agony for almost 5 hours of these cluster contractions. There seemed no light at the end of the tunnel.
Saint Paul uses this exact metaphor to describe the state of creation. Verse 22, “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.” We live in a broken world. A world in the pains of labor. We see it all around us, we see it in our relationships, and we see it in ourselves. There seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel.
Praise be to God, though! The victory has already been won! In the same way that James David was going to enter into this world at some point, even more so has Christ already won the victory over sin, death, and the devil. But as Rachell and I waited in labor in those wee morning hours on October 24, so we wait in the labor of this world for the return of Christ when sin, death, and the devil will be no more. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, and it is a light of glory (verse 30).
For Rachell and I, this light was the gift of new life. We know that James David doesn’t belong to us. He belongs to God. We just have the joy and responsibility of being his earthly parents. The nine months of waiting, the 12 hours of delivery, and then the couple of days in the hospital were all challenging. But it was all worth it to bring home this new life. Rachell and I both just kept looking forward to that moment when we could bring him home. And we finally were able to, and the difficulty of sleeping in the hospital, being woken up by hospital staff, being confined to one little room was all gone, and we brought James David home and everything’s been just perfect. No more crying. No more sleepless nights. No more struggles or pain. If only, right?
No, unfortunately, James David was brought home in a broken world, with two very broken, imperfect parents. As wonderful and near perfection that he is, James is not perfect either. I know that Rachell, even in her brokenness as a human, has been an absolutely amazing mother thus far. As a father, I give myself maybe a passing grade. I still have so much to learn. I don’t know all the best ways to soothe, I’m not the most efficient diaper changer, I can’t swaddle worth a lick, etc. And just wait until he becomes a toddler and the fathering duties increase! Indeed, I am not a perfect father.
But we all have a perfect Father. One that never neglects, never stops loving, never stops caring, and knows all the right things to do. They may not always seem right to us. I’m sure it doesn’t seem right to little James when I press that cold wipe on his bottom. But our heavenly Father shows nothing but love to us, His children. He loves us so much, that He gave up His only begotten Son, Jesus, to die so that we might have life. We experience that life here on earth. We experience it in the taking of His body and blood, and in the washing of baptism. We experience that life when we hear and do His Word. We experience that life in the love we have for each other. But there is still pain. Brothers and sisters, the day is quickly coming that all the pain will be worth it. There is light at the end of the tunnel! Eternity awaits us, where we will have a perfected love for one another and we will bask in the love of our heavenly Father forever.