Carrying a baby for nine months in the womb is a challenge that God has given to women and one that most of us happily accept in exchange for the blessing of a child. The postpartum aspect, however, is a battle of endurance that many of us forget to prepare for as we image the sweet babe at the end of the finish line. While my body currently struggles to heal from the birth of our third child, I am keenly aware that a mother's body is closely connected to Christ's suffering on the cross.
First and foremost, a mother's body is linked to Christ is the acceptance of and obedience to God's will. Before Christ was taken captive to be beaten and killed, Luke 22:41 shows us that He prayed to our Heavenly Father: "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done." Similarly, we know the sacrifice and pain that is to come during pregnancy, labor, and recovery. Yet, we are willing to endure for the sake of new life. With my first two children, I experienced severe nausea for the entire duration of both pregnancies, along with every other unpleasant symptom in the book. When God placed His will for a third child on my heart, I knew the beating my body would take once more. However, who am I to deny a child of God in place of my comfort? Once more, I struggled with daily nausea, but knowing that I was in God's will provided me the necessary strength to carry our child.
Secondly, a mother resembles Christ as she trusts in God's plan. Jesus knew His fate while He prayed to God on the Mount of Olives; yet, He submitted to God's will, trusting the Lord's plan. He certainly could have saved Himself on the cross, as the rulers, soldiers, and criminals challenged him to do (Luke 22:35-39), but he accepted His role in God's plan for salvation, trusting the Lord to use His crucifixion for God's glory. When the first bout of vomiting occurred as I carried our third child in my womb, I had to place my trust in God, understanding that He would carry me through this season. I focused on the knowledge that God envisioned this baby before the beginning of time. He had a plan in mind for our daughter from the very start.
The pain and sacrifice that God and Jesus endured on the cross are of unfathomable proportions. A woman must also sacrifice her body through the process of bringing a child into the world. While pregnant, a fellow Christian (and mother of ten) empowered me to "unite with Jesus on the cross." What an inspiration! I had the opportunity to relate to Christ is my suffering as I carried this child. While I experienced nausea, insomnia, acid reflux, sciatica, round ligament pain, and exhaustion, I tried to remember how much more Jesus suffered for me, as well as the blessing He would bestow at the end of my journey. In my postpartum recovery I am faced with a hurdle I did not anticipate. One week after delivery, as I sat on the doctor's table with complaints of intense pain, he ordered his nurse to fetch a blade, while informing me there would be no anesthesia during this impromptu surgery. In true fear, I found myself deep in prayer, trusting God to get me through the searing pain I had to endure as a result of delivering our sweet daughter. It was a barbaric procedure and the recovery and results are not what I hoped for, so I must see this as yet another opportunity to unite with Jesus on the cross.
As with the death of God's son, a mother must find hope in the benefit to God's Kingdom that follows the suffering. Jesus' death was necessary in order to bring about eternal life for those who believe in Christ and accept Him as their Lord and Savior. Similarly, a mother's struggle is necessary in order to bring a child into this world. She must bear through pregnancy, the unexplainable pain of labor, and the complications of postpartum life. Yet, after all that, the glory rises. We now have the blessing of teaching our daughter to be a disciple of Christ, showing her how to love others as Jesus so dearly loves us, and encouraging her to spread the good news of the Gospel. Although this third pregnancy took another toll on my body, and the delivery has left me with complications from which to recover, I know with absolute certainty that this child is worth every ounce of pain I have endured, a hundred time over. God has a unique plan to glorify His Kingdom that only she can fulfill. How eager I am to see her discover and obey His will for her life!
Lastly, after all His sacrifice, Jesus gets the blessing of being the one who welcomes us into His loving arms, bringing the comfort and peace we seek. Such is true for the mother and child relationship. It is the mother who nourishes her child's hungry body. It is the mother's voice that soothes her crying baby. It is the mother's smell that offers comfort. It is in the mother's gentle touch where her child finds peace. It is in these places where we get to be Jesus on Earth for our child. What a privilege! Though we mothers may share in the pain and sacrifices of Jesus, we also share in His greatest blessing.