Labor is hard. It is painful. It can be scary.
So is life.
A few weeks ago, I gave birth to my second child. Both Labor and delivery with our daughter were easy, so I assumed everything would be even easier with Baby #2; it didn’t take long for me to realize this would not be the case. After breathing and pushing and pushing and breathing and pushing some more, all of my effort was met with encouragement from my doctor and the team to “Push harder.” Let me tell you, I was pushing absolutely as hard as I could. With each set of pushes, I was growing more and more discouraged. What was I doing wrong? I’d done this before. I thought I knew how it was supposed to work. You breathe when they tell you to breathe, then you push when they tell you to push. Then the baby comes out. Seeing the confusion and discouragement on my face, my sweet doctor began to explain what was going on. It turned out that our baby was facing up, which makes for a much more difficult and painful delivery, and could ultimately require the use of some tools (vacuum, forceps, etc.) to get the baby out, or even possibly a C-Section if things got serious. I was relieved to understand what was happening, but now we had to decide what to do in a relatively short amount of time, because the baby was starting to show signs of distress. We decided that during the next pushes we would hope for some movement further down by the baby, and then the doctor would go in and attempt to manually flip the baby over. After the next set of pushes, the doctor was able to successfully flip the baby over. Now I could see my pushing was starting to work! Soon the team could see the head. After just a few more pushes, the doctor wiggled the shoulders free and we welcomed our son into the world.
When Our Effort Doesn’t Produce Immediate Results
During my delivery, I was trying absolutely as hard as I could. I was doing all the “right” things. But because of some circumstances outside of my control (namely, the baby’s position), all of my hard work was not paying off. I think the same holds true in our lives, as we are trying to live our calling and produce good works. We think that if we follow some formula (“Push, Breathe, Push”) then we will receive the desired outcome (Baby!) in our timeline. Well, it doesn’t always work like that. Effort does not always produce immediate results.
The past few years have felt like a long labor in the life of our church. We have seen so many people come and go. Some leave the city for jobs, others find our church isn’t the right fit for them, and some of our leaders have even been sent to start other churches. Whatever the reason, it is always hard to see people leave. Additionally, we’ve met in a million (okay, more like seven) different locations. We spent a season setting up and tearing down our entire service—chairs, sound equipment, Kids ministry—every week. And then, we undertook a huge building project, which led to the tent, which led to drama, and even some more people leaving. No wonder we feel tired. Just typing a synopsis of our church’s short history has worn me out. We fervently believe in the mission of what we’re doing, but as my husband pointed out recently, it seems like we have to work three times as hard to get any one thing accomplished. In this season, I’ve felt the Lord telling me time and time again to stay faithful, to trust Him, and to endure. Specifically, I’ve been led to Galatians 6:9, and that is my prayer for us in this season (and you in your struggle): “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”
When We Need Assistance Beyond Ourselves
I also learned during my labor that in order to safely deliver my son, I needed help from my doctor. I needed someone to go in and change the situation slightly, to allow for the baby to come out more easily. Sometimes we need assistance from beyond ourselves. I am a pretty independent person, so it is a struggle for me to ask for help. I’m constantly learning that asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness; it is a sign of awareness. I could drive myself into exhaustion trying to “do it all” on my own, but why? Especially when the Helper is so capable. I have found out that whenever I actually stop to ask, He is always there to meet the need. I just have to stop and recognize that I can’t, but He can. He loves all of us so much and wants to do His good work in and through us. We just need to remember to invite Him along as we are working. So whether you are in a season of birthing babies or not, we are all in a season of birthing good works. Sometimes the labor is easy. Sometimes it is difficult. But it is always, always worth it.