By Cindy Koch –
I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children.Genesis 3:16
The pain is not simply pregnancy, although it permanently marks our body and changes our life. The pain is not simply childbirth, although it is excruciating and traumatic to the point that most mothers will not remember. The pain is not simply keeping up with a naturally selfish needy baby, although it can destroy a mother and even tear apart a marriage. The pain is not simply raising a sinner to trust in a Savior, although it is a long and thankless road of tears.
One of the most painful realities is when a child walks away from the Christian faith. Years spent dressing him up in Sunday clothes. Years spent providing an example of grace and mercy in a world that would show none. Years spent driving to youth group and volunteering for the next youth lock-in. Years spent tossing and turning in bed, worried about my failures as a parent. Years that seemed to produce nothing but anger and distance in a relationship with the little one God gave me to love.
This is pain. I have no control over the depths of this hurt. There is no epidural to dull the sting of their unbelief. There is no night-off retreat to escape the terrors I imagine my child will have to endure. My kiddo, whom I love dearly, has chosen to push it all away. So the pain in childbearing becomes too great. So terrible I cannot stand it.
I want God to stop the pain. I want God to make this right. I want God to solve this problem so that our children will no longer choose death. But what can I do?
Our pain in childbearing is only one of the problems that haunts our days on this earth. Pain, evil, and death surround us and remind us that we anticipate something more. But it’s not as easy as solving this little pain. It’s not as simple as finding the cure for a single problem in this wide world of sin. We know it can be better. We dream of a world where the pain is gone.
“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Rev 21:3-4).
We hear that the pain will end. The new heavens and new earth will look like what God always wanted for his creations. No more tears, no more death, no more mourning, crying, or pain. Someday, we hope. But this dwelling place of God is not as far off as you think. God is with us even now. The presence of the Almighty is found right here among us—in the Word of Christ.
Forgiveness. The word of Christ heals the pain between child and parent. Forgiveness. The word of Christ calms the conversation to speak love and sacrifice. Forgiveness. The word of Christ proclaims a world that we can hear with our ears but will one day see with our eyes. Forgiveness is here; it proclaims the promise – that the pain is no more.
So even though we endure the pain of this sinful world and childbearing, we forgive our children. There is the hope for this pain, because there is Christ. Every kind and merciful word spoken to our children keeps Christ close to their heart. Every reminder that they have been made a child in their Baptism proclaims their identity in Christ from which they can never escape. Christ is kept near our children when we forgive them. Confident in the word of Christ, the pain in childbearing will be no more.