18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. 19 For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; 21 because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. 23 Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. 24 For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.
Now I will spare you the long drawn out birth story, but I was in non-medicated labor for 30 hours. And believe it or not, there were actually a couple times where I was lucid enough to call these verses to mind and in those moments God gave me such insight into these truths which I thought I would share.
So think that God tells us "all of creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now". Flowers that fade and mountains that crumble... parched deserts and weary lands... animals that starve and humans that hurt. Creation feels PAIN, the kind of pain as a woman giving birth. That is how much we need and are longing for Christ.
Being in labor is extremely painful, yes. There came a point where contractions were every five minutes and we were 24 hours into it and I seriously wanted to give up. It was too much pain for too long and it hadn't produced any results: still not dilated, still no baby. However, call me crazy,I would say I have had migraines that have been worse pain and this is why: Labor pains never made me cry. It never created pain that brought me to tears because I KNEW it had a purpose. It wasn't just a straight miserable pain like a migraine or what I imagine breaking a leg would be, but it was working towards *something* (an adorable baby!) Unlike when I have had really bad migraines, migraines HAVE brought me to tears, because they seem purposeless and I feel beyond miserable, seriously have thought I might die, wretchedly unhappy and pretty much hopeless. [Note: I now know the best medicine to take and when to take it so migraines are not this severe for me anymore in case you were worried about me ;-) ] So what does this teach me about God?
Well, I think it has application when we think of cancer and hurricanes and genocide-these are horrible and painful and it is helpful to think they are serving a purpose. These are labor pains needed to produce a New Heaven and New Earth. But one step further-think about it in context of good things! All this time where we live here on earth in our happy little lives thinking what a great job or house or family or hobby we have-this is birth pangs too. All the breathtaking sunsets and beautiful snowfalls-this is groaning! Isn't that crazy to think? Because really, if you dig deep into these things, aren't they all broken on some level? A great job has it's crappy days, a beautiful house deteriorates, a family has strife, a sunset fades and the glistening snow melts. They are evidences of aching...teaching us to hope for what we do not see.
And at the end of the day what is so great about this analogy is that it's saying life is not a purposeless pain but rather purposeFUL. We are not being tormented and suffering needlessly, but our suffering is producing perseverance and hope (Romans 5) and at the end, like the reward of a newborn baby produced from labor, our reward will be adoption into God's family and the redemption of our body.
I've just never thought about life on earth as the equivalent of groaning and birth pangs. I tend to see the bright side of things and I get caught up in the idolatry of loving my life on earth sometimes. And now that I've experienced birth pangs, it's kind of amazing to contemplate. I know that not everyone will experience childbirth in their lives so I wanted to try to put this in words to hopefully share an insight that helps you see something new and cool about God's amazing plan.
And here's a gratuitous baby picture to remind you of God's purposes :)