I recently watched a viral video in which men were voluntarily subjected to pain similar to what women experience in childbirth. The men began the experiment in good spirits, joking around as electrodes were attached to their abdomens. But as the pain began and eventually increased, they started to grimace and wince in pain—eventually screaming and clutching each other’s hands for emotional support. As I watched the video, I thought about my own wife—the mother of our five kids—and couldn’t help but wonder: How do women endure that kind of suffering?
The answer is that although childbirth may cause intense pain, there’s an invaluable point to the pain: a baby! It’s the baby that allows women to place their experience into a larger context and to realize that, as painful as childbirth is, it results in the birth of a beautiful new life. In that way, their pain isn’t an end unto itself, but a chapter of a larger story.
Although Jesus is fully God, His human suffering on earth was far more profound and severe than what we might face, as evidenced by His night in the garden of Gethsemane (Luke 22:44). What allowed Him to endure suffering of this magnitude was the joy that would come after it: His great victory over sin and death (Hebrews 12:2). Jesus knew that His pain, although indescribable, was only part of the larger story of salvation. And so He was able to endure.
How important it is for us to take the same approach—choosing not to “give up” when we face trials and tribulations (Hebrews 12:3). They aren’t the entire story of our lives, but merely a chapter. May we rest in God and His infinite power and love, knowing that He can work through even our deepest pain.
NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: John 1:1-18
Read Luke 1:26-38 for the account of Mary who was able to endure the scorn of those around her because she knew the full story: She carried the Hope of the World in her womb!
Have you ever had a painful experience that was overshadowed by what came afterward? How might your current pain be part of a larger story or work that God is doing?