“…looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2)
Everyone always told me that when you hold your newborn in your arms for the first time you would forget all the pain and labor that was required to bring your baby into the world. I was fortunate to be able to go home within twelve hours of the birth of our firstborn. My husband and I were ministering in an area that had a small-town hospital, but the hospital was no longer equipped to deliver babies regularly. We had arranged to deliver our baby in a larger city about an hour and quarter from our house. Because of the situation, my family doctor encouraged me to stop at the emergency room in our local hospital first to have them check me before driving over an hour to the hospital where I was scheduled to deliver.
Well, let’s just say that despite the hospital’s regular procedures our daughter was born in our local hospital’s emergency room.
Since our doctor knew the nature of our curious small-town folk he got us discharged as soon as possible. He gave my husband specific instructions: drop your wife and daughter off at the house; drive down the highway; park the car in a neighbor’s driveway, and walk back home. He really was serious. He knew that people would start flocking in because news travels faster than the internet in a small town.
Ah…the joys of fishbowl life….
My husband didn’t park the car down the road, but we tried to hide away for a time and enjoy the excitement of being new parents.
People still stopped by, so we had to tell the the birth story over and over, and after I said goodbye to our guests and fed my baby again, I’d think back over the previous few hours and days. The problem was that when I remembered the pain, my mind recoiled from the recollection.
What was with this? They all said I wouldn’t remember the pain! And I didn’t want to–it hurt a lot, even the memory of it! But this was all so fresh and real that there was no way I was forgetting that I delivered in an emergency room that was not equipped with any pain-numbing equipment–no “pit drip”, no epidural…just me and the doctor and the nurse called in as extra help to fight through the pain and bring my daughter into this world.
It doesn’t mean the joy wasn’t there, too; I had always wanted to be a mother, and I was in wonder of that fact, but every time my mind visited those hours that brought her into the world I had to push the pain out of my mind as it was too acute to think about.
To say we won’t remember the pain isn’t true, and I think Christ knew this, too. It says in this verse from Hebrews that He “despised the shame.” He certainly didn’t enjoy the suffering and pain He endured for our sake, but His pain is still remembered because it is a part of the joy. If He had not endured the cross and despised the shame He was required to bear to reconcile us to Himself we would still be separate from Him, enslaved to the enemy of our souls.
BUT…”for the joy set before Him” He did endure, and that pain is part of the joy He experiences now where He sits at the right hand of God ready to come again and receive us to Himself.
On top of that remembrance of the pain of the Cross is the current pain we cause Him every day by our sin. It is just like how my children still bring me pain as I watch them suffer either because of the consequences of their own sin or just the result of living in this sinful world. Yet the joy of knowing them and seeing them grow is interlaced through the pain, making it more meaningful and rich.
So…now that I am older, and (hopefully) wiser; and I have forgotten the memories of those labor and delivery pains, I don’t recoil as much from them or other painful memories. Why? Because I know that though the memory of that pain is dulled, it’s all a part of the joy of seeing growth in the lives of my children and in my own life. It is joy that will sustain us until we reach the fullness of joy with Christ when we will also sit near the throne of our God!
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