“Oh, my dear children! I feel as if I’m going through labor pains for you again, and they will continue until Christ is fully developed in your lives.”
Galatians 4:19 NLT
I hear that labor pains in giving birth is one of the hardest things a woman has to go through. It’s been described as dying and coming back to life again. I was there at the birth of all three of my children trying to console my wife through her labor pains. I couldn’t take away her pains. I could only support her in her pain.
As a man I will never know how it feels to give birth. In the same way many people will never know the pain of a pastor who has to give spiritual birth to so many. When you are connected to your sheep and truly know their condition you feel what they feel. As they develop it hurts.
The apostle Paul is trying to give birth to new Christians in Corinth but he’s being undermined by old religious spirits. The same people who used to love Paul now loathe Paul. He has to change his tone because the labor pains are kicking in.
Labor pain is not only associated with birth but with work. It’s a lot of work trying to develop people spiritually, especially as you deal with people who have experienced arrested development.
Some of my sons didn’t want to come out on their own. They got too comfortable in their mother’s womb and had to be taken out through cesarean. Some people get so comfortable that it makes the one giving birth uncomfortable.
This will continue until Christ is fully developed in the ones you are developing.
How can you help with labor pains with your spiritual leader?
- Trust your leader. Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you (Hebrews 13:17).
- Pray for your pastor. The first thing I want you to do is pray. Pray every way you know how, for everyone you know. Pray especially for rulers and their governments to rule well so we can be quietly about our business of living simply, in humble contemplation. This is the way our Savior God wants us to live (1 Timothy 2:1).
- Watch your tone. Don’t be harsh or impatient with an older man. Talk to him as you would your own father, and to the younger men as your brothers. Reverently honor an older woman as you would your mother, and the younger women as sisters (1 Timothy 5:1).
From what I’m told, giving birth for a woman is a near death experience. From what I know, pastoring is a crown of joy and a cross of sorrow. It brings great joy and at times great pain. What brings me my greatest joy is seeing people grow in Christ. When I see that it makes the pain worthwhile. Pastoring would be easy if the babies would just grow up.
God’s promise to those of you who are going through labor pains is this:
When a woman gives birth, she has a hard time, there’s no getting around it. But when the baby is born, there is joy in the birth. This new life in the world wipes out memory of the pain. The sadness you have right now is similar to that pain, but the coming joy is also similar. When I see you again, you’ll be full of joy, and it will be a joy no one can rob from you. You’ll no longer be so full of questions.
In Jesus’ Name,