A woman, when she is in labor, has sorrow because her hour has come; but as soon as she has given birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. | John 16:21
Join me, if you will, in a brief peek into a maternity ward. I daren’t elevate this particular wing of a hospital to a place of glory above another (all are incredibly important), but for the sake of what the Lord has me focusing on here lately, we will “camp out” here. For those who may be unfamiliar with this term, your thoughts right now may include: What on earth is a maternity ward? How is this relevant at all to my life? Isn’t that kind of…gross?
Push open those double doors. It is like stepping into another world. Outside the threshold, people pass by seemingly unaffected by little things–but inside, physicians make decisive actions while friends and family wait, all very affected by the slightest development. The sounds outside the ward may include idle chatter, talk of business, and planning for the future, while the sounds in the ward range from exasperated moans of mothers to the faint coos of a newborn child. As the world rushes on outside labor and delivery department, there is a sacredness in that place. No matter how busy or mundane the workload is, those who work in that department are dealing with the beautiful, fragile reality of new life. Not only are they there for the initial birthing process, but they also make sure newborn babies start off well and are healthy enough to be in the outside world.
Alright, you can step out of the maternity ward now. Was it as bad a you pictured? Anything unexpected? The idea of bringing up this illustration is to see that the labor, the pain, the tears, it is all worth it. New life is the result! Maternity wards are a place of immense beauty literally born out of true, hard labor and agony. We have been given the promise in God’s Word that the harvest of souls IS plentiful (Matthew 9:35-38). But the problem comes in wanting to have all the blessings without spending time in the fields and in the prayer closet. We need to be spiritually laboring. Please don’t confuse this with “work” or “busyness”. True spiritual labor may look on the outside to be time-consuming, mundane, and inefficient, but from it is born life, intimacy with Christ, and healing. Our tears and cries over our own deadness of heart, for lost souls, and for revival among the bride are welcome before the throne of grace.
Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy. He who continually goes forth weeping, bearing seed for sowing, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bearing his sheaves with him. | Psalm 126:5-6
The labor of the righteous leads to life… | Proverbs 10:16a
Remember the verse at the beginning in John 16? Here is how the Lord Jesus finishes that thought as He is talking with His disciples before His death and resurrection:
Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice; and your joy no one will take from you. | John 16:22
This is all just the pain before the joy. Whether or not we have physical children, we are called to labor together. Sometimes that may look like praying without any sort of time limit, in expectant agony, for those lost souls Jesus loves. Or it may mean the Lord using you to be there right at that moment when someone passes from death to life, as a midwife of sorts. Right now, that might mean setting down your phone or laptop and just spending time with a new believer. It isn’t a flashy job, but it is a beautiful thing to be a part of God’s maternity ward. May we join with Mary in saying, with a willing and trusting heart, “I am the Lord’s maidservant; be it unto me according to thy word.” (Luke 1:38) He has wonderful things in store!