Gladness of Heart
By Maribeth Spangenberg
“…Thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress” Psalm 4:1
“..thou hast put gladness in my heart” Psalm 4:7a
“Okay, take a deep breath, bear down, hold it, and push,” the doctor counseled, “the baby’s head is right there.”
My husband gently stroked my forehead, removing the sweat and brushing my hair to the side. “You’re doing great, honey,” he lovingly encouraged.
Nine months of pregnancy and hours of labor, anticipating the birth of this precious child, and now, I was at the long awaited end. My expected blessing, who had greatly expanded the girth of my stomach, was now traveling down the birth canal to make his entrance into the world. I could truly identify with John 16:21a: “A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come…”
Labor pains need to be strong in intensity as they stretch and expand the baby’s entranceway into the world. The “sorrow” of the pain is strongest felt immediately before the birth, and afterwards, a mother will experience her greatest joy: that of bringing a new life into the world.
“…But as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world” (John 16:21b). The physical “sorrow” of childbirth is for the end result of joy.
Pregnancy and childbirth offer a mother a special analogy for the trials of life. When we are faced with difficult situations in our ministry of mothering, we should view it as the Lord “enlarging” us, perfecting us, and molding us into a vessel fit for His service. Unfortunately, this is often a painful process.
As the physical pain in labor is necessary for the joy of birth, so emotional pain may be essential for spiritual growth. The cherished memories of cradling a newborn, cuddling an infant, and snuggling with a toddler can sometimes be overshadowed with the struggles of character development, the challenge of discipline issues, and the heartache of rebellious attitudes, as our cherished blessings grow and mature.
At such times, we may be tempted to lose heart, and to feel as though we can’t make it to the end. Just as a woman may experience fatigue and weariness in the transitional phase of labor, so a mother may struggle with discouragement and disillusionment in the child-rearing years.
God’s Word promises us that His grace is sufficient, as we remain pliable to His enlarging us and stretching us. As we draw closer to the Savior, He will “give more grace unto the humble” (James 4:6).
So when we encounter difficulties in the transitional phases of childhood, when exhaustion and weariness threaten to overwhelm us, we need to take a deep breath, allow Jesus to bear our burdens, hold onto the Promises of Scripture, and use life’s trials to push us closer to the Lord. Only then can we experience the gladness of heart and fullness of joy that God intended for Mothers, a true ministry of love.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, help me to never forget that it is YOU who brings children into the world, and that it is YOU who will help me to raise them for your glory!