This past weekend, I attended a training to become a certified birth instructor and doula. Birth is not something too many women think very fondly about. Baby, yes, but the actual birth? Most shudder in fear thinking about the pain that is associated with it. I used to too. It is the wretched curse of Eve and every woman thereafter to have labor pains, and even with today’s meds, you can hardly avoid it even if you try.
In fact, the reason I went natural for all of my births in the first place was that I learned from other mothers that drugs and other interventions actually put the mother and the baby at higher risk for all sorts of complications that ended up causing them much more pain than the natural pains of labor. More pain? No thank you. So I signed up for the natural route and found out how to make the best of it. Then in the process, I discovered that birth can actually be a beautiful process if you know how to get through the pain.
Yet either way, natural or not, you can’t escape pain at birth. You will feel it at some point. With pain we enter this life, then with pain we leave it, and of course there is no escaping it in between either. It seems to simply be a part of the fabric of this world, woven in and out of every corner. Even with every good, there also seems to be some kind of bad making all of life some kind of bittersweet.
Then there is the pain you just can’t seem to understand why it could ever be allowed. Cancer, war, divorce, betrayal, injustice, poverty, rape, broken homes, and shattered dreams. The mother by the bedside of her child who thrashes around from the pains of chemo.The endless pangs of hunger felt by millions without food. The depression that debilitates so many and suffocates them in darkness. There is so much pain I can almost see the world throbbing from above, and while I know pain does not come from God, I know that for some reason, God many times allows it.
But why? Why would God create someone to go through life in pain like so many seem to do?
Sometimes I think I know, then sometimes I don’t, but I always take comfort in the words I tell my children in their pain:
This past week I spent almost every minute of every day hearing the moans and groans of agony from my daughter Kindle. She had sores in her mouth that lasted for days which meant she didn’t eat for days and she hardly slept either. Right by my side, I heard her cries through the night, making its way even into my dreams, as she and I both fell in and out of short spurts of sleep. There was very little I could do to help her, so we just had to wait for it to pass, and I kept reassuring her that it indeed would get better. One day she would wake up and the pain would be gone.
So she waited. Miserable for sure, but she was a real trooper. When day three or four passed, she finally started being able to eat a bite of soggy cereal here and there. At first, she was so relieved with even that, she would say things like, “God loves me because He let me eat.” But the pain persisted and you can only enjoy soggy cereal for so long and she started to say things like, “I will NEVER be happy again..”
A little dramatic, but who can blame her? Days can feel like an eternity for a three-year-old kid especially if they are in pain. The only thing that consoled her was to cling to me and have me by her side every second, stroking her back, her hair, her arms as she moaned. So I did and I just kept praying for the pain to be lifted as she continued to cry. All the while, I was also thinking about the rest of the world going through much worse than mouth sores. I was thinking about the little girl I read about battling leukemia and I prayed for her too with heaviness in my heart.
Then in my prayers, I know God was comforting me with the same words, reminding me this would all pass. This throbbing world will pass, and while we may not understand what happens in this world, the lives that He created, not for pain but for love, will remain with Him forever in a perfect heaven that allows no pain. It can feel like an eternity away sometimes for sure, but as I cling to Christ through the waiting, I know I too will one day wake up and find myself facing the birth of a new dawn, a new morning when I will see Jesus face to face and we will be free from this life of pain. And if this is the only thing that keeps us going, I see nothing better to look forward to than that. In the mean time, together I hope to find a way to get through the problem of pain and to make something beautiful out of this life as well.