Any woman who has given birth knows from experience what birth pangs are like. They can be extremely painful, and only the expectation of holding that new life in our hands sustains us through the process. In fact, during the birth of our fifth child, I remember informing my husband and the obstetrician in all seriousness that I wasn’t sure I could push that baby out — that I had forgotten how to push! When faced with their incredulous reaction, I explained, “After all, it HAS been 23 months since I last did this!” As they guffawed in chorus, I was gravely offended. How DARE they underestimate the gravity and difficulty of what I was doing! Of course, I recovered my pushing skills with lightning speed, and our son emerged gloriously into this world a few moments later. Although the pain and intensity of the birth process did not disappear into oblivion, they diminished in significance in the face of the bundle of kicking, bellowing life I was holding in my arms!
As a mother, I am well aware of what I endured to birth our children. However, have we ever really considered how the birth process must feel from the baby’s perspective? How would YOU like to suddenly be ejected from your warm, cozy habitat, where meals are automatically provided 24/7, and you never have to interact with anyone who annoys you or experience anything unfriendly? Then, almost without warning, your world begins to shake. Someone has ordered the compression machine to kick in! Moreover, it appears you are being forced to enter an extremely narrow tunnel that is completely dark, restrictive, and uninviting! There is no hope of remaining where you are, but there seems to be no promise of an exit from that tunnel either! In fact, until your head bursts forward and out enough into the light for you to see with your eyes that LIFE awaits you rather than death, that birth canal feels like you are in a death grip of some sort.
Sometimes I feel like God is birthing me into a new phase of life — but He rarely shows me ahead of the game where He is taking me. He simply begins to put the squeeze on. He jostles my nest, things begin to shake, and, before I can tighten my grip on my situation, He propels me into a dark, tight tunnel. Like that baby in the womb, I have an instinctive resistance to the compression process! I invariably have to let go of everything I am holding onto and allow Him to propel me through that narrow place. I find myself needing to trust Him that He will be the Light for me when I cannot see any light at the end of the tunnel. Sometimes it feels like death is going to overwhelm me in that place of transition, as if a huge boa constrictor were squeezing me. In fact, the prophet Hosea addresses my unwillingness to move to that new, God-appointed phase of my life:
“The iniquity of Ephraim [not fully punished yet] is bound up [ as in a bag]; his sin is laid up in store [for judgment and destruction]. The pains of a woman in childbirth are coming on for him [to be born]; but he is an unwise son, for now when it is time [to be born], he comes not to the place where [unborn] children break forth [he needs new birth but makes no effort to acquire it].
Should I ransom them from the power of Sheol (the place of the dead)? Should I redeem them from death? O death, where are your plagues? O Sheol, where is your destruction? Relenting and compassion are hidden from My eyes.” Hosea 13:12-14 (Amplified Edition)
The word Ephraim in Hebrew is derived from the word that means fruit or fruitful, certainly an appropriate name for someone who is destined to be the fruit of the womb! Just as God births us by the power of the Blood of Jesus from iniquity into new life, He also regularly ordains that we be birthed into new places of fruitfulness for His Kingdom. When we feel the constriction of those birth pangs, we tend to resist, but we are certainly UNWISE if we insist on lingering in our old place of comfort. In fact, a baby who stays too long in the womb will ultimately die. In order to live, he/she needs to be born! The same goes for us — we must overcome our desires to remain in our place of comfort and choose to enter that birth canal, however dark or narrow it may be, and trust God that DEATH does not await us in that tight spot, but LIFE. God has and will continue to ransom us from the power of death and hell and cause us to bear FRUIT. Trust Him! He is with you in the birth pangs of life, and He has called you to bear fruit.