Written by Ruth Croft
“My Little Children for whom I labour in birth again until Christ is formed in you.” (Galations. 4:19)
This verse has been underlined in my Bible for years but it took on a different meaning when I became a mom and had “little children”. If you look closely at my Bible, you will see the faded initials of my four children in the margin.
Childbirth is an experience! I remember, when I was first pregnant, asking everyone I knew, “What is childbirth like?” No one seemed to be able to describe it to me. I had to find out for myself.
This verse reminds me of that experience. The pain and anxiety associated with childbirth is like no other! It is hard to explain to someone just what it is like to feel extreme distress and yet know that the end result is worth every bit of discomfort. You don’t want the pain to go away because you know, in the end, it produces the birthing of new life! When you first hold your baby in your arms there is an overwhelming feeling both of love and responsibility.
The apostle Paul thinks of the people of Galatia as his own children. He teaches them, watches them come to faith and then agonizes over their childish behaviour when he fails to see signs of spiritual maturity. They don’t seem to be interested in deepening their relationship with God but, like little children, they wander off to do their own thing.
It is interesting that Paul uses the example of childbirth to paint a picture of a spiritual truth when, obviously, he has never experienced it! Perhaps he has heard a woman in labour and immediately recognizes the intensity of pain. This is how he feels for his spiritual “children”. He knows what it’s like to pray so earnestly for something that it seems his prayers are “groans that cannot be uttered” (Rom. 8:26).
Sound like a woman in labour?
Paul pleads with God to work in their lives until they are strong in their faith. He wants them to be like Jesus! So, he prays with fervency and earnestly asks that God will literally invade their lives with His presence until the nature of Christ is formed in them and their lives show it.
What a picture to keep in mind as we pray for our children! Relive the experience of their birth: the pain, the intense labour and the recognition that you did not give up until they were safely in your arms. It is the same for their spiritual birth. It requires an intensity of laboured prayer and a determination to never stop until “Christ is formed in them.”
It has been many years since I underlined Galatians 4:19, experienced childbirth for myself, added four initials and began the job of parenting. Paul was right. Prayer is hard work but it will produce “new life” if we don’t give up.
Be like Paul.