Child-bearing: A Cursed Blessing

baby-1296409_1280Baby bumps, “the glow,” a new wardrobe, showers of gifts, bundles of joy– pregnancy can really sound appealing. War sounds appealing to young boys too. But veterans will tell you, after all the strategy is drawn and the military precision practiced, when the battle starts to rage it is bloody, chaotic, and terrifying. I think pregnancy is a little like that. (Actually, without the blessing of modern medicine, it is a lot like that.)

EdgarSometimes people like to wax poetic about the miracle growing inside you. But I usually get a strange creeping sensation up the back of my legs. Remember Edgar from Men in Black? That’s the image that comes to my mind. I’ve been body snatched. I can’t walk straight, my face swells up, and foreign body parts, not controlled by my brain stem, start sticking out at random intervals. Hormones dip and sway, and so does my equilibrium and my mood. I can’t think of words. I feel more like my body has been invaded by aliens than like a bearer of miracles, and I’d just rather not talk about my insides.

I feel undignified, clumsy, stupid, and worst of all, I feel ashamed that I would have any negative feelings about a blessing as grand as bearing children, especially when it is not afforded to everyone. So I count my blessings and cry out gratitude to God. And it is good. But then I still have the feeling that each flight of stairs takes a year off my life, and my blood pressure drops so that I have to lay on the kitchen floor, hoping my 3-year-old is in the mood to obey and put the shredded cheese back in the fridge.

While I’m lying there on the floor, my prayer goes something like, “I know I should be thankful right now. I don’t want to complain. I know my body is not my own. I know this is a privilege. I want to raise Godly offspring. I want to do this right. I know you are in control of vasodilatation and spinal nerves. Why are you preventing me from doing this well?!”

And there it is –the source of the stench. Once, we had a dead mouse that was behind the oven. Cleaning the rugs helped a little and so did bleaching the trash cans, but we had to get to the source to get rid of the smell. I can count my blessings, try not to complain, and that is right and good. But at the root, I am believing wrong things about myself and about God. I would not “do this well” if only God would let me. God is doing for me all things well, including training me by trials of various kinds that lead me to repentance and to eternal life.

Wherever we find suffering, be it on a large scale, or in this case, of the most ordinary, mundane variety we should draw the line back to sin. I don’t mean a one-to-one kind of correlation necessarily, but we need in recognize that we are a cursed race from the time of Adam. We won’t apply the right remedy until we understand the cause. We are a cursed people. And for women, all things childbearing is at the center, “To the woman he said, ‘I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children.” (Gen 3:16)

Already, I’m encouraged, but only because I know where this story ends. The curse is not the last word. 1 Timothy 2:15, “Yet she will be saved through childbearing-if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.”  John Piper suggests an understanding of this verse by Henry Alford:

The curse on the woman for her [“transgression”] was, “in pains you will bear children”. Her [“childbearing”] is that in which the curse finds its operation. What then is here promised her? Not only exemption from that curse in its worst and heaviest effects: not merely that she shall safely bear children: but the Apostle uses the word [“will be saved”] purposely for its higher meaning [eternal salvation], and the construction of the sentence is precisely as [in] 1 Cor 3:15 — [“he will be saved so as through fire”]. Just as that man should be saved through, as passing through, fire which is his trial, his hindrance in his way, in spite of which he escapes — so she shall be saved, through, as passing through, her child-bearing, which is her trial, her curse, her (not means of salvation, but) hindrance in the way of it. (Alford, H. [2010].Alford’s Greek Testament: an exegetical and critical commentary [Vol. 3, 320]. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.)

The message to the cursed woman is the same message for all weary sinners- wounded, sick, sore, pregnant, anxious, or toiling. Piper ends with this encouragement: .

God’s word to all those burdens and frustrations and miseries is No! This is not my last word to you! My word is salvation! My word, in and through every fiery trial, is to save you, rescue you, preserve you, and give you a future and a hope. All of that through faith in Jesus Christ.

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