Strength to Endure
Labor pains. There really isn’t anything quite like them. One comedian said it’s like taking hold of your lower lip and pulling it out as far as you can and then stretching it over your head. Yep, pretty much sums it up.
It seems odd that the Apostle Paul, a single man without children, would use the metaphor of labor to describe the situation in which we (and the entire cosmos) find ourselves. But it is, indeed, a perfect metaphor. For the pain of labor is all but forgotten in the incredible joy of new birth. The expectation of what will be gives fortitude to push through the pain.
Mary waited with hope, as all expectant parents do, that her son would be born healthy and strong. But her hope, as we read in Luke 1:46-55, known as the Magnificat, was also for the redemption of the world. The “Mighty One” would send a Savior for the entire world through this humble, obedient servant. We wait, this Advent season, in the sure and certain hope that just as God redeemed a fallen humanity from the power of sin and death through the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus, God will redeem and restore the entire cosmos when Jesus, the Christ, comes again in glory.
The New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) Bible translates the end of verse 25, “we wait for it with patience,” but the Greek is hypomonēs, “endurance” — we wait with endurance. And just as the incomparable joy of childbirth gives a mother the necessary strength to endure her labor, the promise of our new life as heirs of God’s kingdom gives us the strength to endure the inevitable struggles and hardships of our daily lives. And we have a birthing coach to help us breathe through the pain: the ever- present Holy Spirit!
Holy Spirit, breathe joy into our sadness, hope into our longing, peace into our pain as we wait patiently for the day we will gather in the Kingdom with all God’s beloved and redeemed children. Amen.
Rev. Carol George – St. Mark Lutheran Church, Anchorage
22We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; 23and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. 24For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? 25But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.