The labor for the birth of the baby is about a day, but the labor for the birth of the mother is quite a bit longer! It is most intense over the first couple weeks after the labor and delivery of the baby.
There is this wonderful and complex phenomenon called pain and discomfort. The stretching of the “new wineskin”, so to speak! Pain, discomfort, sacrifice, and self-denial are all vehicles for the birth of the baby, but also for the birth of the mother. Yes, these pains are our friend, accomplishing the bringing of our baby into the world, and also accomplishing a wonderful transformation of our heart and lives.
1. It is over the threshold of sacrifice and suffering that we enter into the place of maturity in Christ.
Motherhood provides many opportunities for this self-sacrifice, and enduring suffering for the benefit of another. These are opportunities to have the fellowship of sharing in Christ’s sufferings.Phil 3:10 “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.”
2. Trials provide opportunities to become mature and complete:
James 1:2-4 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Embrace the trials motherhood affords you as opportunities for maturity and necessary refinement of your character, conforming you to the image of Christ! I like to say that children are cute little ministers of self-death. We need this refinement in our character. Christ calls us to love, agape love, which is the special type of love that He demonstrated for us, self-sacrificial giving of yourself for others. Sounds like motherhood, eh?
Heb 5: 8-9 Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him. He was made perfect through suffering, meaning made complete. This suffering takes many forms: physical pain at times, yes, but more often self-denial.
3. Worship is sacrifice.
Animal sacrifice was a part of Old Testament worship. This pointed to the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus Christ, who tells us to be living sacrifices, to take up His yoke. Romans 12: 1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. If we would come after Him, we are to take up the cross of self-death; don’t refuse to die! Luke 9: 23-24 Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. Consider all the typically mundane activities as acts of worship. Any activity undertaken in obedience to God’s revealed will is worship. You are a living sacrifice. Being a living sacrifice is our worship.
4. The sign of motherhood is the sign of the cross. Don’t resent the demands of motherhood and infancy, rather embrace them. They are sanctifying for you! It is over the threshold of sacrifice that we enter into maturity. Sacrifice brings us into the presence of God. We experience Him in a greater way than self-preserving does. Losing our life – our self-life, we find life – life in Him. Motherhood is a special calling to this selfless sacrificial life in a real way. Don’t stand at the threshold and resist. Don’t pause and tarry. Embrace it. Isaac did not resist the wood, the fire, the knife. The angel stayed his father Abraham’s hand, Isaac did not. Isaac submitted to his father’s will. He was bound by him, placed on the altar, and witnessed his own father’s hand wielding a knife.He watched as the knife went higher and higher in the air. He watched as it was poised at his very heart. Yet he did not struggle or resist though it appeared that it would be at the cost of his very life. How about you?
Here is a quote by Sheila Stubbs, author of “Birthing the Easy Way:” “Childbearing gives us an opportunity to experience but a tiny portion of the suffering of Christ on our behalf. It gives us the opportunity to understand Christ’s willingness to endure suffering for the life of another person, a person we already know and love, even before they know us. We do it so they might have life, together with us. Natural birth cannot be under our control; it is simply something to which we surrender ourselves… Amen?”
More sacrifice -> more worship -> more maturity -> more God! We can experience more of God! What could we possibly give up that would be worth more than experiencing more of God? And we have this wonderful opportunity in the day-to-day sacrificial activities of motherhood. See them as glorious! Moses’ face was radiant after meeting with God 40 days and 40 nights on the mountain. Though we aren’t on a mountain fasting, and we certainly are not Moses, yet Psalm 34:5 says, “Those who look to him are radiant…” Why does the cross symbolize motherhood? Because THE HEART OF MOTHERHOOD IS WHAT IS BEST FOR MY BABY, not what is best for myself. Not sacrificing baby at the altar of self. Then it would be of no value to you. Rather as Elizabeth Elliott says, motherhood is an opportunity for true Christ likeness, my life for yours’, a living death, giving up your life for these.
Motherhood requires self-giving, sacrifice, suffering. It is a going down into death in order to give life, a great human analogy of a great spiritual principle. (Paul wrote, “Death worketh in us but life in you”).” Women of faith have an opportunity to cooperate with our sanctification, having our fallen character worked on through the child bearing/childrearing process, by humble obedience to childrearing’s simple daily demands. Yielding to these demands is working sanctification in you as you respond in faith, love, and holiness. “The routines of housework and of mothering may be seen as a kind of death, and it is appropriate that they should be, for they offer the chance, day after day, to lay down one’s life for others. Then they are no longer routines. By being done with love and offered up to God with praise, they are thereby hallowed as the vessels of the tabernacle were hallowed–not because they were different from other vessels in quality or function, but because they were offered to God. A mother’s part in sustaining the life of her children and making it pleasant and comfortable is no triviality. It calls for self-sacrifice and humility, but it is the route, as was the humiliation of Jesus, to glory.” Like Jesus, who refused to save Himself when tempted to come down from the cross. He rather gave up His life to give us life!
Motherhood is a special calling to women to lay down their life which she refused to do in the garden and lead mankind into death. Eve was sensually strapped, a slave to her senses and perceptions, self-promoting, self-preserving, and she lost her life and that of all mankind in her act of self-promotion.
Motherhood can be a beautiful instrument by which we can experience sanctification in the daily dying to self and yielding of our body, our life, for the demands of family.
First there is yielding your body to your husband -by this you become pregnant; your body is yielded and inhabited by man, then child.
Then yielding your body to the pregnancy ->you sustain the life of the developing child. This child lives off your very lifeblood.
Then yielding your body to childbirth -> laying down your life, sacrificing your comfort, to bear the child.
Then breastfeeding -> yielding your life, time, body, to give your child another form of your lifeblood, the sustenance God provides through your body for this baby.
Lose your life and you’ll find it – be a living wheat plant from the seed that fell to the ground and died – bearing fruit, not a single seed that puts itself on a pedestal to remain preserved, intact in its shell. John 12:24 Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.