“My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you.” – (Gal 4:19)
“Before she travailed, she brought forth; before her pain came, she was delivered of a man child” (Isaiah 66:7)
Jide drove his young wife, Nike to the hospital that evening as soon as she began to experience some contraction in her over-bloated belly. It was her first pregnancy and both were filled with fear and trepidation. The nurses rallied around to sort out the registration formalities and admitted Nike into the labour ward to prepare her for the delivery of her first baby. Jide too was in seeming labour as paced about the lawn that overlooked the labour ward. From his vantage position, he could hear the shouts and screams of women in different stages of labour. Jide met other husbands like him who waited eagerly for their kids as concerned relatives who accompanied them to the hospital.
When the gynaecologist approached Nike for the requisite examination to determine the level of dilation of her cervix, she froze in embarrassment, and declined out rightly. She couldn’t bear to allow another man besides her lovely husband, see her nakedness let alone allow him to examine her in that sense. She felt it would violate her privacy and sense of decency, hence declined vehemently and ignored the advice of the nurses around. The doctor didn’t protest but smiled as he gently walked away without feeling offended. It was not his first experience with such a ‘primi gravida'; usually naïve and shy women having their first pregnancies to full term!
Few hours later, Nike began to experience a strong wave of contraction that seemed to tear her back into two; labour had set in and she no longer could bear the pain. The doctor however, was busy attending to other ready and willing patients and was oblivious of what was happening to Nike.
“Doctooooooooor!” she screamed without a care.
There was silence. The doctor ignored her and continued with his work.
“Doctoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooor, please come oh”, she cried out with all the energy you could muster. “I’m dying of pain oooh.., please come and help…” She was writhing in pain that she never knew ever existed.She screamed at the top of her voice and gnashed her teeth together, and without anyone prompting her, she stripped herself to the bare.
” Doctooooooooooooooooor, I no wan die abeg..please help me oooh!”
The same woman who earlier had declined to be examined now had no option than to strip naked without caring who looked at her or not, and banishing the embarrassment and shame of being examined by another man. The pain of labour had punctured her sense of decency to the point of surrender and she was better for it as few hours after the examination, the doctor certified that her cervix has fully dilated. And no sooner, she began to PUSH until she was delivered of her baby, thus ending her labour and the successful termination of the 9-month long and chequered journey she had embarked on.!
To a large extent, Nike’s experience typifies the experiences of many women, except in cases where Caesarian Sections are undertaken. The process of normal birth involves the pain and travails associated with the passage of the child through nature’s birth canal. Child delivery, though as painful as adversity, still allows joy to crown the efforts of a woman in travail.
In the same vein, the process of spiritual birth and advancement is froth with pain and labour of some sort. Like the baby in the dark enclosure of the womb who sees light upon delivery, our spirit man is translated from the kingdom of darkness to light, through the process of spiritual birth. Hence when we get born again, we experience a newness of spirit and new life in Christ.
For many of us, we stop at that first level without realizing that for any and every progress and advancement to be made in the realm of the spirit as Christians, we must go through another cycle of labour that precedes the birth process.. Naturally, we detest the pain of birth pangs and choose to remain in our comfort zones as much as long as we can. However we cannot brush aside the spiritual laws of advancement and expect that we can make progress at our terms. It has never worked and may never work going by the realities we face each day.
For instance, before Jesus could accept to die on the cross, he had to experience the inevitable travails of spiritual birth. He had to sweat, groan and moan like a woman in labour at the Garden of Gethsemane all alone, though his best friends had promised to be there with and for him. Jesus cried and writhed in pain but no one could help. No pain killer or anaesthetic drug was given to ameliorate the pain he felt at the depth of his being. He experienced spiritual birth pangs that gripped his soul in such intensity that his blood vessels ruptured and his sweat became and admixture of blood and agony. He had to bear the travail so that the spirits of humans can be reborn so we can come spiritually alive again after the spiritual death that occurred at Eden ! If not for the birth pangs, I wonder if we will all not be grappling in spiritual darkness and despair.
Though Nike’s husband loved her so much, she had to confront the stark reality that she alone had to bear the pain and burden of childbirth. In the same vein, we need to realize that to birth spiritual realities and make advancement in the knowledge of God, we have to be strong and determined to carry the pregnancy to full term, and be ready to bear the pain and travails of spiritual childbirth. For the principles that govern the process of spiritual advancement are similar to the process of pregnancy, labour and childbirth. Like Virgin Mary, we are to become receptacles of the “Divine Seed’ and ensure that we carry this to full term, and birth the reality accordingly. We become pregnant with spiritual realities when we become full of God’s word through intense Bible study, meditation and musing over the Word of God. Sometimes, God drops spiritual realities into our heart through visions and dreams, or prophetic encounters and proclamation.
Once the spiritual reality implants into the womb of our heart like fetus after conception, we need to cherish and protect that Godly Seed in us. This Godly Seed may drop into our hearts like a prayer burden or engaging thought that won’t lift for any reason. Irrespective of the history and origin of the spiritual pregnancy, we must fight to keep the pregnancy to full term through PRAYER and other spiritual disciplines like confession and mentally picturing the spiritual reality to such a point that it becomes no longer a virtual, but tangible reality in our life.
If we must realize the promises and blessings of God, we must then wrestle and confront the inertia and circumstances that cause us to give up or despair when we attempt to make advancement in the realm of the spirit. We need to know that we have spiritual abilities and grace from God that will help us push and press through prayer until we experience the reality that we are pregnant with. We need not be like “the children of Ephraim , who being armed and carrying bows, turned back on the day of battle”( Psalm 78:9), knowing that if our hearts fail out of fear on the day of battle, we then are weak and have no strength in us.
The 21st century Christian is up against many odds that oppose our spiritual advancement, but it would be catastrophic for us and generations unborn if we succumbs or remains complacent to the realities around us. God is looking for those who will receive spiritual burdens and birth them at the place of prayer and deep intercession. If we must carry on the torch of the Gospel of Truth to the next generation, it becomes imperative that we have to enter into the labour room of God and begin to birth those realities that we desire to see first in our lives, the Church in general and in the larger society. This is a call that we cannot ignore for we were products and offspring of the spiritual travails of Jesus Christ and we ought to follow his example so we can birth spiritual realities in our own generation.
About Felix-Abrahams Obi
Obi Felix is a Physiotherapist and writer based in Abuja. He is a member of the Association of Nigerian Authors, as well as Abuja Literary Society. The writer has written many articles, poems, short stories and essays which have been published in Nigerian newspapers and anthologies. He is the moderator of Cry of Adam Network, which is devoted to bringing emotional and spiritual healing to the wounded. He can be reached via EMAIL, or BLOG