I’m sure you’ve heard this before: “Every pregnancy is different.” The same is true with labor. (It is also true with each child as they grow up.)
In my case, not only was every pregnancy different physiologically, but each pregnancy also challenged and stretched my faith in different ways and on different levels. It’s funny because though this was my fourth pregnancy, and it hadn’t really been that long since I last gave birth (Isaiah hasn’t even turned three yet), I oftentimes felt like I was a first-time mom whenever I had to think about going through labor again. I was unsure of myself and my capability to withstand the pain. I sometimes thought, what if my body couldn’t handle the pain this time? What if my labor would be like my second one which lasted for 21 hours (the three hours being stuck in transition stage– the most painful stage!) or longer?? I dreaded the thought of having a long labor again.
During this pregnancy, I also didn’t get to review any books which I have done during all the other pregnancies. I prepared my labor kit and hospital bags and finalized shopping for baby’s needs only on my 37th week. The previous times, I was ready as early as a whole month (or more) before I gave birth. I found that each time the idea of me giving birth anytime soon came up, I would say “Not yet please! I’m not yet ready!” I said this often enough, that I’m pretty sure my body got the point. I wasn’t ready. Each day that passed, each day that drew me closer to my due date, I still “wasn’t ready”. And I still dreaded the thought of finally giving birth. (Or it could be that i just wanted to still be able to eat a lot and have a great excuse for my appetite!)
During my 37th week, God finally dealt with my heart in this area. I finally admitted that there was some anxiety in me. Yes, all along I was denying it and suppressing it (though it would come out during those “I’m not yet ready” moments over my conversations) …as if God didn’t see what was going on.
He spoke to me with this verse:
“Now FAITH is the ASSURANCE of things hoped for,the CONVICTION of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)
I have read this verse and heard it preached since I was young. But this was the first time I read it using the English Standard Version (ESV).
The NIV says it this way: “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”
Let me repeat the ESV version: “Now FAITH is the ASSURANCE of things hoped for,the CONVICTION of things not seen.”
I like that word– conviction. Conviction is defined as a fixed or firmly held belief. The voice of conviction says ” I WILL receive what I’m hoping for or asking God for.” “I WILL see what is yet unseen.” (Of course, I am talking within the context of 1 John 5:14-15 “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.”)
What was God’s will? For me to honor Him– even with this birth. It was His will that I encounter Him and experience Him in a greater measure during this birth. It was His will that His grace will be made real and tangible, as I rely on His strength.
Moving along the rest of Hebrews 11….
(Hebrews 11:6 ) “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him.”
Faith is a prerequisite to pleasing God. Faith also believes that God rewards those who seek Him.
In short, if I wanted to please God, I needed to have FULL CONVICTION that God exists– that I have a God who is fully capable of doing the impossible– and that God will reward me as I seek Him.
Let me pause here for a moment.
When I read this, I was already nearing my labor day. Truth be told, I did not know what to expect, and I did not want to set any expectations, for fear that things might not go as expected. With my second, I was told by the nurses that I would most probably be giving birth in less amount of time than the first. When labor lasted much, much longer than expected, it became harder and harder to stay patient and positive with each wave of contraction.
So with this pregnancy, I thought I knew better than to try to set expectations. I preferred to just expect even the unexpected.
I thought I knew better, but this way of thinking did not help build up my faith whatsoever. On the contrary, it fed my anxieties. I wouldn’t say I was afraid, but at the back of my mind, as much as I hated to admit it, I knew I was feeding doubt and unbelief– which led to anxiety, not faith, being built up.
“Without faith, it is IMPOSSIBLE to please God.”
Even if I had the most beautiful birth story, even if I had the easiest, quickest labor– if I didn’t go into this in faith, then I still wouldn’t be honoring God.
And what was my goal? What was the whole point of everything?
To honor God and please Him.
Which meant that there was only one way to go about this.
I was to approach my labor day (and everything else in life) in FAITH– with full conviction that I will receive the birth I was hoping for. No fear, no anxiety, no dread.
Hebrews 11:11 “BY FAITH, Sarah herself RECEIVED POWER to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised.”
Did you get that??
By faith. She received power to conceive…. EVEN WHEN she was past the age…because she knew that the God who made the promise is faithful.
Faith is not only having full conviction, it is not only a prerequisite to pleasing God, it also gives us power to overcome and give birth to the impossible– in spite of the “even when/even if’s” of life!
Maybe I’m just being overly excited about this, but this totally changed the way I entered that birthing room last October 23, 2015.
Instead of being in doubt, I was in faith. Instead of not having any expectations for fear of disappointment, I was in full expectation that I would have the shortest labor in all my birthing history. Instead of being anxious, I was excited.
I was fully convinced that as I asked God to help me through labor and allow me to experience my shortest labor this time around, that I will receive it. I was fully convinced that even if I am a decade older than when I had my first birth, I was still going to be even stronger than before. I was fully convinced that I was going to have a glorious childbirth– one that would please and honor and magnify God’s goodness, His faithfulness, and His grace.None of me, all of Him. I was going to have a birth that displayed none of “how strong” I am, and all of how His strength is made perfect in my weakness.
His strength is made perfect in our weakness.
He gives us power to conceive and give birth to the impossible– no matter how many “even when’s” or “even if’s” the world throws our way.
He deserves to have our full assurance and full conviction– because He is our God, our Heavenly Father who is very real, very personal, and very much able and willing to reward His children. 🙂
Let me end here for now. I will be writing about our fourth baby’s birth story soon. 🙂
For now, please give a warm welcome to our son– the newest member of the SyCreatures– Liam Samuel! 🙂