Eyes downcast, Jamé exhales slowly. Pain flickers across her countenance. It’s ten in the morning, and she’s been laboring steadily for three hours.
Never is a woman more vulnerable– or more powerful — than she is during childbirth.
Sam kisses her forehead, laces his fingers through hers, murmurs encouragement.
Never does a man feel more helpless than when his beloved gives birth — and never is he more helpful, simply by being at her side.
It’s the being, not the doing. The power of presence. This is his gift to her.
The two are becoming three, another holy family echoing the hope of ancient Bethlehem, awaiting the arrival of one who will change their world.
An echo, but sacred nonetheless.
Hushed voices. Worship music. Gentle touches.
She breathes, and we women, we breathe with her. In through the nose, out through the mouth, slow, focused, intent.
It all flashes back for us, the anguish before the ecstasy. In German, it’s called Mitleid. To suffer with.
She breathes. God breathes. A miracle is in the making.
Here’s the thing: Miracles are preceded by pain, perspiration and panic. The new thing, the impossible thing God is doing squeezes through darkness and constraint at just the right time. And then.
Then everything changes.
The labor intensifies. She moans and weeps with the contractions. I choke back tears, hand her more tissues. The nurse checks her, and she is only dilated to four.
She is tired and discouraged.
But I know something from where I stand. I know that the first part is the hardest and longest — and then momentum takes over.
I’ve been through some births, and I’ve seen me some miracles. This is how it works. Perseverance is key.
The contractions come harder. She is crying out now, tense with fear. We lean in: Good job. You’ve got this. God is helping you. You can do it.
The midwife bustles in. It’s time to push. Jamé bears down hard, her voice erupting in guttural screams, her limbs trembling violently.
The midwife tugs on baby Helaina’s wrinkled little head. More hard pushes. We hold our collective breath.
Come on, baby!
And Lainey slips out, squalling in protest, a tangle of flailing limbs , and oh, so stunning. We all weep, overcome.
When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. – John 16:21
The sacred space of that delivery room illustrates a two-sided truth:
- Only God could knit together Helaina in her mother’s womb. Jamé didn’t create her little girl.
We don’t have the power to work miracles — only God does.
2. Jamé had to labor with her whole being. There was no going back. No matter that she was exhausted or weeping with pain … she had to be fully invested.
Our part in a miracle is to participate by faith, wholeheartedly.
Babies don’t come easily. Miracles don’t happen due to wishful thinking.
Rather, a miracle occurs when God sets his higher-than-natural laws in motion and we embrace the outcome by faith before it arrives.
Faith is hard work.
Maybe you’re suffering right now. Maybe you’ve been laboring for what seems like forever, holding onto God’s promise, wondering when you’ll ever see it come to pass. You’re worn-out, hurting, half crazy.
May I encourage you?
Good job. You can do this. God is helping you.
Take heart: From this dark place, this pressure and pain, your miracle is about to emerge.
And when it does, you’ll forget the suffering for the joy that is yours.
Photo credits: Randi Leister and Jameson Maynes