One of my favorite times of day comes when the lights go out and I arrange the pillows, when I finally cease my own striving and lay still enough to feel only the movements of what is to come, this baby I asked for, one I waited for like all my babies. She rolls about, elbows me, presses tiny feet out to say “I am here” even though she’s not fully seen.
Like this little life hidden in plain sight, there is something rolling under the surface of the belly of the world, something more than tectonic plates. It’s creation’s anxious longing, waiting for the revealing of God’s children, something the principalities can’t hold back.
In our nightly Bible reading this year, I’ve heard the same conversation three times now, Jesus answering His disciples and giving the low down on hard times to come.
As I labored with my second baby three years back, I had my mom turn on the video of my firstborn’s birth for my doula to see. My own guttural groans echoed over to me.
“Do you want me to turn it down?” my mom asked, “Does the thought of doing this again scare you?”
I knew it did no good to rehearse the pain. I was going to birth a baby that day whether I was afraid or not.
Not too long after, labor pains came so strong that they bolted me to my feet like I was one in Judea fleeing to the mountains.
In the shadow of His own suffering that would bring us new life, Jesus told of the hardships His followers would also endure, these being merely the beginning of birth pangs. False messiahs, wars, rumors of wars, earthquakes, famines, arrests, persecution, all the pain ahead.
Then came His words most out of place in the dismal scene: “do not be afraid….do not worry….” And all throughout these word pictures of suffering, the same refrain, “Do not let your heart be troubled…”
How not to?!! Believe in Him. Rehearse the good to come. Take heart that He is preparing a place…that where He is we may also be.
Soon, I let the contractions roll over one another to make way for my baby. I laid on my side, groaning, sniffing rose oil, believing the words of my doula that the Lord was with me.
And somehow, crazy as it sounds, I found myself thinking in the midst of the strain that I could do this at least once more, carry another little soul, let the pain do its work and lead to release, a new beauty come out from hiding.
It’s a picture of joy to come, the sufferings not worthy to be compared with future glory.
Congratulations to Karin of Middle of My Story, the winner of our final Take Heart giveaway! She will receive a copy of Denise Hildreth Jones’ new non-fiction release “Reclaiming Your Heart” and the companion novel, “Secrets over Sweet Tea.” Click the book titles or the photo to the left* to get your own copies!
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I’m just about speechless as our Take Heart series comes to a close. We’ve heard the honest stories of nine women who experienced one sort of hardship or another and, in the midst of the struggle, heard the whisper of Jesus, “Take heart, daughter…” Aside from our guest writers, we’ve had several meaningful giveaways from some amazing women (a relief worker, a jewelry maker, a painter and an author). We’ve also heard from friends who’ve linked up their stories on their own sites or shared in the comments section. And I’ve been incredibly moved by a couple of lovely women who sent me their stories in secret. Thank you all for reading and writing and sharing and thank you for encouraging one another to take heart, for while we’re sure to have our share of trouble in the world, He has already overcome it.