The Beginning of Birth Pains
Is your heart heavy this week?
It can be easy to get caught up in the darkness surrounding us in the world today. Political unrest, destructive addictions, disappointing behaviors of Christian leadership, propaganda in schools, relational division, and “wars and rumors of wars”. Our hearts can take on heavy burdens like these and leave us feeling anxious and depressed for the future of our world.
Interestingly, Jesus compares times like this to a woman in labor.
Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains. Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.”
- Matthew 24:4-11
Jesus was speaking about the signs of the “end of the age”. He describes many of the circumstances we'll recognize as his second coming draws closer. He compares those times to the beginning of birth pains. Jesus must have known that there’s a funny thing about birth pains. They always carry the promise of purpose.
When a woman enters into labor, at first her contractions are like a whisper, signaling that the time has come. Some women may not even notice them! Then they become stronger and more regular, although she may still find she can work and talk through them. Even farther along, birth pains may feel extremely intense and take every ounce of her concentration and endurance. Then with one last magnificent effort suddenly the mother is holding her baby in her arms. There is nothing like the glorious ecstasy of that moment!
Why do women willingly, even joyfully, endure the intensity and exertion of giving birth?
Because there is purpose in the pain.
Are you feeling those first whispers of labor as you look at our world? Will we see the second coming of Jesus in our own lifetime? There is no way to know for certain! But we are told to prepare ourselves be constantly watchful. We are also told of a glorious hope - a purpose in the pain.
“Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”
- Matthew 24:12-14
Just like in labor, during dark times we have a choice to make. Will we succumb to fear, completely unprepared and filled with crippling anxiety for what’s to come? Or will we stand firm in our convictions, knowing the hope of glorious eternity is just a few contractions away?
Lord Jesus, give us the strength to stand firm for you. Keep our minds and hearts fixed on you and the purpose you have for us. Thank you for your gift of eternal life! Help us to have the courage to carry your light everywhere we go, preaching your gospel of the kingdom throughout the earth until your coming, so that everyone can receive the same gift of eternal life that I have been given. Amen.