Jesus’s death on the cross redeems us from the curse of sin and redeems us once and for all to be adopted into God’s family without condemnation. That much is clear.
Where Christians more specifically seem to end up with more disagreement is over whether or not Jesus’ work on the cross redeems us from physical pain, disease and suffering in this lifetime or every time. And this is a THICK topic with myriad more Bible-literate theologians debating their positions on the matter. I don’t venture to place myself in their ranks and form a watertight argument on the matter, but because it tips into our understanding of and expectations for childbirth, it is worth exploring just a little in this space.
There are two main camps:
Press in and claim through faith the finished work of Jesus as a provision for the removal of pain from your childbearing.
Joyfully participate in the suffering of Jesus on the cross for the sake of our lives by enduring the pain of birth to bring life to your baby.
Since this is merely an opinion piece, I’ll tell you that I fall somewhere in the middle.
I KNOW that just a single TOUCH from Jesus can make the blind see, the lame walk, a daughter come back to life and a woman stop her 12years of bleeding. He is ABLE. And in the years He walked on earth in the body of a man he did it again and again and again. He then told his disciples that they would do the same, plus even greater things. I also don’t believe that that shared authority ended in the book of Acts because I have witnessed healings and freedom from the demonic by the name of Jesus in my own lifetime.
So, sister, COULD Jesus eliminate pain from labor? You betcha. Of course He could. He is that powerful and that merciful.
I also believe that Jesus invites us over and over again to come to him with our petitions, asking Him for what we want and need, trusting Him to give us good gifts. He is attentive and He cares about every detail, down to how many hairs are on your head.
So, are you free to come crawl up in your Father’s lap and ask Him for a pain-free birth. Of course you are. He is that available and that attentive.
Jesus also spent a lot of time talking about how there would be hard times, and He didn’t heal every single person in all of the places that He went. He never guaranteed it, nor did He ever position it as the Highest Good that He had to offer to people. What was higher? Forgiveness of sins and rightness with God. The miracles were pointing to that higher good.
So, is it possible that Jesus is less interested in sparing you labor pain than He is in drawing you closer to Himself and sharing His very self with you? Of course. He is that desiring of intimacy with you.
Jesus also took a road of servanthood and suffering (unto death) and told His disciples to take up their own crosses to follow Him. Later, Paul wrote that we get to “participate with Him in His sufferings.” He said this like it was an honor. Why? Because we KNOW HIM more through walking the road that He walked. He reveals Himself to us through suffering.
So, is it possible that allowing you to experience the tightening and overwhelming intensity of hard contractions is a means of grace? is it possible that tasting what it means to lay down your own life for the sake of another (your baby) is an honor that allows you to more fully grasp the love of God for you? Of course. He is that committed to your sanctification and the revelation of His Love.
Now I will also say this: I have experienced pain-free labor and birth! It’s always been intense, but 3 or 4 out of 5 times it wasn’t what I would call painful. Yes, I said some prayers in which I asked for that, but the tone of those prayers was less of an authoritative declaration in which I was claiming my inherited right to be free from physical suffering and more like a daughter sitting in her daddy’s lap, sharing her worries with Him and asking if He would help her with the pain. He didn’t ever owe me a yes.
And he doesn’t owe you a yes, either. He will show Himself good and He will BE WITH YOU whether it hurts or not, sisters. Focus your prayers on asking Him for more of Himself as the first and best gift that He might give you through your birth experience. Focus on declaring your trust in Him and asking Him to carry you through whatever comes. Focus on asking Him to accomplish His purposes for the birth (and maybe even asking Him to share his heart and intentions for your birth with you!).
And in the meantime, you can learn more about how physiological states like muscle tension and psychological states like fear can contribute to creating an experience of pain. I wrote about that, too, and cover it in more depth in Embrace. You can learn more about how the birthing environment and a feeling of safety impact pain levels, too. I highly recommend intentionally working through fears and learning relaxation, visualization and breathing techniques, plus making a birth plan that ensures a feeling of safety and privacy. If you practice those things you honestly are more likely to experience a birth that isn’t as painful because that’s how God made our bodies to work (which is SO COOL)!
But I caution against coming into birth with an EXPECTATION that your efforts, your faith, or your prayers have guaranteed you a pain-free birth. That kind of attachment to a particular outcome is likely to lead down a road of disappointment and disillusionment if it doesn’t happen, and instead of helping you to focus on the birth as an opportunity to know more of God, you get stuck in pain-avoidance focus. It can make an idol out of a specific vision for your birth.
I’d love to hear about your experiences as well as your own perspective on this question in the comments below.
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