Birthing and Longing

“You know, babe, I wish I could have known you would be all into this...BIRTH STUFF before we got married.” We became pregnant just a few short months after our honeymoon, which unexpectedly thrust our relationship to a whole new level of trust and intimacy. And simultaneously unlocked inside of me what has become an enduring life passion: childbirth.

As I write this article I’m heavily pregnant with our third daughter and have attended a good handful of other people’s deliveries as a birth doula. I’ve listened to birth seminars with rapt attention and enthusiastically taught new parents what to expect in the delivery room. I’ve responded to text messages including pictures of mucus plugs at the dinner table and was recently gifted a stuffed placenta. (To my husband’s credit, I can’t blame the man for wanting a bit of warning.)

Before continuing, though, let me say that I understand not everyone is as enthused about birth as I am. Some are simply squeamish about the thought of humans emerging from other humans. Others have very valid reasons for wanting to avoid the topic; a history of sexual abuse or past birth trauma might have cut very deep scars that need healing. Please know that I am not insensitive to those tender experiences and I hope you, too, can find this article helpful—even healing.

But, if you’ll let me, I would love to think about the gospel implications for this God-designed process of bringing humans into the world. After all, birth is the mechanism God chose for his own divine son, Jesus, to become man. Many times in scripture, birth is vividly referenced as a metaphor for teaching spiritual truths.

Romans 8 has been a favorite passage in our church for sometime. We’ve heard numerous, meaty sermons on these thirty-nine verses. And my favorite portion of Romans 8 is 19-25 where Paul uses childbirth as a metaphor to teach us about our ultimate future glory:

For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

Our Future Glory

Whether it’s something as significant as a waiting to see a child to come to saving faith in Christ or something more temporal but strongly felt as waiting for a child to fall asleep (PLEASE!) we all know what it means to wait for something with eager longing.

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But the waiting of childbirth—and, so, creation—is marked by groaning. This is not a comfortable waiting. It is waiting punctuated by great effort and, oftentimes, pain. The tension of ‘already but not yet’ is palabable in the delivery room. Every birth attendant knows that the baby is coming; but often as the hours or days of labor creep by, it is easy to fall into wondering if the baby will actually ever come. As a birth doula, I frequently remind my clients that all their work is moving them closer towards the moment when they will hold their baby in their arms. But yet, I have no control over the process. I cannot say the time or hour when the baby will be born.

To such a greater extent creation, “and not only the creation, but we ourselves,” feel the cosmic ‘already but not yet’ tension. As Paul writes, “[we] groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.”

Christians are a people keenly aware that this world is not as it should be. When we look around and see hatred and bigotry, inequality and racism, poverty and wars, it would be right for us to literally moan, “When will Jesus redeem this once and for all!?” Even inside of us we see ongoing battles with sin and wonder, “Why did I yell at my children AGAIN!? When will I be holy as God is holy?”

Praise God that we have assurance that day IS coming—the baby WILL be born!—though it will be at an “hour no one knows.”[1] And on that day, after a labor that has lasted the ages, there will be rejoicing like no other. The Gospel of John beautifully describes this moment, “When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world.”[2]

Creation, Groaning, and The Gospel

My hope for you after reading these words is to see childbirth as an opportunity to think about our new birth in Christ and ultimate home in the New Earth. Much like a woman in labor, may we groan and long for that day when the sad things will become untrue.

And, just like a woman in labor, may we endeavor to put those groanings to work. May our groans sound like women who shout gospel truth through the labor halls of life. And may we know when we get to see our Savior face to face, it will be cause for infinite joy—a moment that will make the breathtaking moment of looking into the faces of our own children once they’ve been born pale in comparison.

[1] Matt. 24:36

[2] John 16:21


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Victoria Wilson is a worship pastor's wife and work-at-home-mom to three spunky daughters. She is active in her local church and grateful to have opportunities to serve others through her online marketing businesses. As a doula, she enjoys walking alongside families through the process of pregnancy and birth. You can find Victoria frequently enjoying a homemade latte and occasionally attempting a DIY project in her Kentucky home. Connect with her on instagram and her website.