Growing up I had a perception of pregnancy and child birth that was very uninformed. I was under the impression that once a woman got pregnant everything was essentially fine. I thought that losing a child in utero was an extreme irregularity surpassed only by the rare instance of a child being still born. Even as a young dad I had seen, from my perspective, pregnancies initiated and completed with what appeared to be relative ease. If you would have asked me I would have thought that you would be more likely to get audited by the IRS than have a pregnancy end without giving birth to a live baby.
This all changed for me quite abruptly about 8 years ago. My wife and I saw a couple of pregnancies end early (within the first 12 weeks). I was shocked. We were healthy 23 year-olds who had already had two healthy babies…what was going on? Furthermore, I was a new Christian. And I was trying to piece together and process these things in my developing Christian worldview. To say the least, my world was rocked a bit to find out that, by some estimates, around 1/3 of all pregnancies end prematurely.
I remember reading the simple yet profound verses in the 123rd Psalm:
“Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward”
Prior to these miscarriages I had looked at childbirth like a naturalist (or better yet a flaming pagan). I believed that I was the sovereign creator who cooperated with nature to bring about life. Oh, sure, I would not have been so brazen as to articulate such idolatry. I tipped my hat to God by recognizing that I needed to be thankful. But at the end of the day I did not see children as a gift from the LORD as much as I saw them as some sort of automatic right or consequence of physical intimacy.
God rocked my worldview. He stripped loose my pagan tools, cleared off the high places, and brought me low. I saw my wife suffer. I suffered. I began looking at my sons and asking myself, “Why Lord, are they here?”
I remember one particular instance with vivid clarity and it preaches to me on a regular basis. It was just moments after we had found out that Christie had miscarried. I went into my boys’ room (they were sleeping). I walked over to my then toddler Luke’s crib. I saw him sleeping so peacefully. I watched him breathe. I saw him druel. I then reached over and put my hand on his back and felt his little 18 month old heart pumping away through his onesie. I thought back to the previous days when we went to the doctor and heard our baby’s heart beat. But now, the baby’s heart was not beating. I stood convicted of my idolatry right there. God had convicted me that it is “in him that we live, move and have our being” and “he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything” (Acts 17.25 & 28). What a pagan I had become.
Childbirth is not automatic. The world is cursed. And this curse has encroached on every inch of this world and has even invaded the wombs of women. Sin’s sword is death and it has been mercilessly taking lives since that fateful day in the garden.
I have been learning through these years that children are indeed a gift from the LORD. He gave them. He created them. He sustains them. His fingerprints are all over this.
Since this time we have had other miscarriages, at which time we have grieved and prayed for mercy and comfort. But God has also been well pleased to bless us with two beautiful daughters. They stand alongside of our other children as murals of divine mercy, love, care, kindness, and grace. God did not have to give us anything, he could have given us anything, but he chose to give us this amazing thing: children. Amazing.
I am challenged on a regular basis when I hug my kids and feel their heartbeats to give God glory for his abundant kindness and power as the Creator. Childbirth is not automatic. And to have children is truly a blessing that should redound in hearty, zealous, humble thanksgiving.
If you are married and planning on kids, or newly married, getting married, or perhaps someday planning on marriage and having kids, I encourage you to think biblically about childbirth. Give God the glory that is due him. Remove the high places in your mind and replaces them with high thoughts of God and his abundant kindness to us, even through the precious gift of life in our children. As John Piper might say, “Don’t waste your prengancy!”