This is a continuation of Understanding My Unexpected Labor and Delivery: Part 1.
I’m a faith person and I take the Bible at its word, especially when it comes to asking and believing. I clung to these verses when I prepared for my labor and delivery through prayer:
Ask and it shall be given. Matthew 7:7
Ask anything in my name and I will do it. John 14:14
You have not because you ask not. James 4:2
Each morning, I make my requests to you and wait expectantly. Psalm 5:3
If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! Matthew 7:11
I wasn’t sure if it was biblical to pray and believe for a beautiful labor and delivery. But I had heard and read many testimonies of women who had experienced them. I’d also prayed for quick and smooth deliveries for my friends and watched the Lord say YES to those prayers. I thought if I prayed diligently and intentionally enough for a glory-filled, heavenly labor and delivery, God would honor them. Why wouldn’t that be within His will? After all, the Word says He will give good things to those who ask of Him.
He didn’t say YES to those requests and it confused me.
Why wouldn’t He want to give me a supernatural childbirth?
Why would He give it to others and not me?
I spent a week in the hospital post-delivery. After I got home, I asked the Lord to speak to me. I needed to hear from Him. He felt so far from me. I couldn’t feel His presence. All I could feel was pain, betrayal and silence.
Okay God, now would be a good time to comfort me. Give me a little grace. Why have you turned your face from me?
It doesn’t help me to guess reasons why God might have chosen to let things turn out a certain way. I believe something more substantial is at play and He wants us to uncover it in times like these.
One day, as I was dozing off to take a nap, I heard Jesus. The words He prayed to God the night he was unjustly arrested rang in my ears.
Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” Luke 22:42
It hit me. Jesus prayed and asked God to take away the cup of suffering that God had predestined. He asked and presented His request. He didn’t want to go through this brutal torture and murder (and who would?). But His heart was surrendered to what God wanted to ultimately accomplish through Him for others. He understood that the events and answered prayers in his life weren’t about him and his personal satisfaction. They were about others.
In the same sense, I asked for what I wanted. This time God said NO to my request. It wasn’t His will to give me a quick, glorious labor and delivery like my friends had. He had another plan for me. Like Jesus, I didn’t want to go through pain and suffering. But even when I prayed and received prayer for the labor I hoped to have, I had this strange, conflicting feeling that it wasn’t according to His will.
Although we are called to pray bold prayers and God is a good gift giver to those who love Him, it’s not always rainbows and unicorns in the kingdom. As a matter of fact, the Word says we will share in Christ’s glory and in his suffering (1 Peter 4:13).
In this case, God chose to let me share in Christ’s suffering.
Here is what the Lord revealed to me in understanding why:
- God trusts us to steward our cup of suffering.
I had two options. I could be bitter or I could steward the pain in such a way to seek a deeper layer of God’s nature and help others. I realized that we have all, as co-heirs with Christ, been assigned cups of suffering just like Jesus was. In the same way that Jesus didn’t want to suffer, He submitted to God’s will instead. God chose Jesus to take that particular cup…the cup of carrying the weight of the world’s sins to the cross and grave so that the rest of us would be free.
Jesus’s suffering was for a much greater purpose. God didn’t allow him to suffer because he didn’t love him. He knew the end result would far outweigh what Jesus would go through, and Jesus was the only one who could do it. He was anointed to save the world. In the same sense, I realized that God didn’t take the cup of suffering away from me because I was meant to steward it for a purpose greater than my own comfort. He knew I would be faithful in the process afterwards and would press in to understand why.
Is it strange to say that I almost feel honored that He knew I could handle this shock, trauma, pain and depression? It makes me want to do the best job I can at learning God’s heart on a new level and how my pain relates to many others and then effectively communicate the revelation.
Take comfort when you experience cups of suffering because He can work through those times. He trusts you to steward the process of overcoming to help other people. Life isn’t all about us, our comfort and getting YESes to our prayers and desires. A time comes where we mature in our faith even when we drink a cup of suffering. He calls us to consider it pure joy when we go through trials of many kinds, because this is what produces character and endurance to win the ultimate prize. James 1:2-4.
2. God is still good.
God is truly good. The second thing I learned is that in suffering, He also gives grace. What we focus on only magnifies. I was focusing on all the ways He wasn’t there and it wasn’t helping. I decided to start noticing where He was giving me grace and answering other prayers. What I noticed broke my heart and humbled me. In His goodness, He allowed my baby to latch onto my breast immediately. He filled me with enough milk to feed four children! Nursing isn’t painful like I imagined. It’s actually been enjoyable and easy. I know this is by His grace because this isn’t everyone’s experience. He also has given me a perfectly healthy and beautiful baby who is already sleeping sometimes six hours through the night at three weeks old. Also, not necessarily normal and totally by His grace.
If you pay attention, God is giving you grace in other areas to lighten the burden you’re carrying. It helped me to make a list of everything I noticed and I focus on those things every morning.
The third thing I feel like God wanted to teach me is how to let people into my brokenness. Like most millennials, I like to be independent. I don’t like to ask for help and I don’t like letting people into my mess. I grew up in the South where the house had to be immaculate before guests came over.
When I got home, I was recovering from a major surgery. Most people don’t think of c-sections as major surgeries because they seem so common. But a c-section certainly makes it hard for the new mother healing, eating, drinking enough water, showering, using the bathroom, caring for her baby and keeping the house in some kind of order. Chores aren’t allowed for a healing c-section, but let’s be real.
I finally hit a breaking point. Friends were texting and offering to help. I was desperately exhausted and hungry, so I caved in, and said YES. I let friends come into my messy kitchen and bedroom. I let my friend Brittany wash my dishes and fold laundry. I let Alicia hold my baby for an hour so I could lay down. I let my friend Claire come show me how to bottle feed and operate the bottle warmer. I let my friends Heidi and Sherry come over while the living room was a mess. Other friends brought us meals that sometimes would be the only time I had a chance to eat that day. Sherry changed baby’s diapers and helped feed Kris and me two nights in a row.
It’s rocked me to see people care for me the way they have. My exhaustion and brokenness shattered my pride enough to let people be the body of Christ we are called to be. Their kindness makes me want to show that same kindness to others. They have shown me the hands and feet of Jesus.
In summary, God uses our suffering to weave the fabric of our purpose and destiny. There is beauty in the pain. And our suffering isn’t about God withholding his goodness. It’s not about us at all. It’s about how we will steward it for the good of others. Just like Jesus did.