My mother and younger sister are both midwives. I have been fortunate enough to be under their care in the labours of my two children and I am amazed at the blessing it was. To be able to carry and birth a baby is a miracle in itself, and to choose to be a midwife is a career path that certainly means assisting in this miracle of birthing life.
In discussing the birthing process, my mum and sister have both told me of the importance of a woman’s mindset before and during birth. The women that come in, ready for an active birth, ready to do the work needed in order to accomplish the painful, yet so rewarding task of bringing a baby into the world, often have the smoothest labours. For these women, their mind is set on the task at hand, they have the witness of so many women who have gone before them giving birth naturally and they are equipped with the knowledge and great support of those around them to emerge victorious: mothers of new little precious little lives.
It is very rare that I go through a day when I don’t marvel at the gift of motherhood. In the Bible, being able to bring forth new life was a privilege and grace of God given to Eve and through Eve, women. Often, we think of it purely in terms of the curse, yet how wrong this thinking is! In Genesis 3, we do read that childbearing is now under the curse:
“To the woman he said,
“I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing;
in pain you shall bring forth children.
– Genesis 3:16a
Have you ever realised that there are two parts to this curse: ‘you will experience pain in childbearing’ and ‘in pain you shall bring forth children’. This means we experience pain through miscarriage, infertility, pain through having children reject the grace of God found in the Gospel, pain through labour, etc etc. As John MacArthur says:
“There are then great difficulties and dangers that are associated with being a woman. To say nothing of carrying around a child for nine months in your womb and then having to release that child into the world with all of its hostilities and all of its threats and all of its dangers, whether they be physical dangers or whether they be moral dangers…the child now finding its independence and because the child by nature is a sinner, wicked, that child is going to find everything destructive to entertain itself and therefore a mother has a heart that never rests. She worries about not only about what may harm the child physically but what may destroy the child’s soul. There are not only accidents and plagues and injuries that can worry the mother. There is that rebellion that will break her heart. There is that child that moves away into a kind of life that grieves a mother. And the more children she has, the worse it is.”
For these reasons, we often focus on the ‘cursed’ nature of being a woman who can bear children. Yet Adam saw things differently. In this Curse, Adam saw the hope and promise of life and salvation.
Nancy Guthrie writes,
…Adam also heard hope in what God said. He heard the promise of an offspring who would reverse the Curse. Adam’s first words after hearing the Curse express his faith in what God had promised: “The man-Adam- names his wife Eve, because she would be the mother of all who life” (Genesis 3:20). God said Adam would die, returning to dust; yet Adam immediately named his wife Eve because she would be the mother of all living. Adam caught the promise buried in the Curse, and by naming his wife “life,” he confessed his faith that God would indeed bring the blessing of life out of this curse of death.
… The anticipation began for the Son who would come. The woman would experience painful labor to bring him forth, but the confident hope of all those who believed God’s promise was that when he came, he would put an end to pain.”
– January 17 in The One Year Book of Discovering Jesus in the Old Testament (2010, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, Carol Stream, Illinois).
Here we see that God gave child-bearing as a gift to the woman that would ultimately bring forth Jesus (see- blessing!!). It also gives women the opportunity to redeem the poor choice Eve made in choosing selfish ambition over humble surrender to God; as women, we have the opportunity to surrender to God and raise our children to know (and with the Holy Spirit’s power, love) Jesus and His Gospel.
There are so many aspects of motherhood that bring pain but they are also used by the Holy Spirit to refine us, point out sin in our life and remind us of a need for a Saviour and the blessing this Saviour is. Motherhood also brings such joy and blessing. It is definitely the hardest but most rewarding and life-altering thing I have experienced. Daily, I am reminded of sin (both mine and my children’s!) and daily I need to seek time at the feet of my Saviour, relying on His grace. As women, being able to mother is a gift, it is one we do not ultimately control, yet one we have the joy to battle through. Mothering allows us to experience and teach the gospel moment by moment and reminds us repeatedly of the hope we have in Jesus.
May we be active mothers in birthing our children and in the raising of them- with our minds set on things above (Colossians 3:2), the Word of God as the Sword in our hand (Ephesians 6:17) and the Holy Spirit as our ever-present Help (John 14:16), may we emerge one day along with our children victorious in the faith, clothed in His righteousness and seeing His Face, face-to-face (1 Corinthians 13:12)!