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Enduring for Paradise

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. ~Hebrews 12:1-2 {ESV}

Have you ever endured something incredibly painful because you knew the reward that was coming was better than anything you could ever have dreamed of?

Chances are, you have, even if you didn’t realize it at the time. Maybe it was enduring a really hard last semester, knowing that graduation was on the horizon. Or perhaps it was getting through an extremely hard month at work, knowing that you’re only three weeks away from that tropical vacation.

When I think of my life, grad school comes to mind—enduring two extremely busy years for the reward of that Master of Arts—that “MA” I get to put after my name when I sign letters, emails, etc. But I’m sure that even the two years of grueling grad work will pale in comparison to labor.

I’ve always had an irrational fear of childbirth.

Something about my thoughts about childbirth convinces me that I will, inevitably, die—my heart will explode from the pressure, some unknown aneurysm in my brain will burst, I’ll have internal bleeding that goes unnoticed until it’s too late. Something. Something will happen, and I will most certainly perish.

But yet, here I am, pregnant and anticipating the birth of our first child, regardless of my impending doom that I know in my heart—God willing—will not happen.

I never had irrational fears about grad school. I didn’t believe it would kill me (though honestly, it probably got closer than childbirth will). But childbirth: everything about it is terrifying, and yet we women go through it because we want to meet our new child.

For the joy set before us,

we endure childbirth. We endure labor. We endure nine months of discomfort. Some of us endure two months of nausea and vomiting. Many of us endure awful heartburn. We all endure extreme exhaustion. We all endure painful changes to the body of our youth. And all of it for the joy set before us—the joy of knowing our children.

Though childbirth is not a physical cross, it is likely the most painful experience we can choose to go through—just like Jesus chose to go through with the cross. Could he have saved himself? Could he have fled? Could he have called upon thousands of angels to deliver him from the pain and destroy all the floggers and mockers? Of course he could have—He’s God. But for the joy set before Him—the joy of eternal fellowship with His Father and with us—He endured the cross—possibly the most excruciating form of torture humans have ever created.

Thankfully, we don’t have to die on a cross to prove our worth to our Lord.

Thankfully, we have a Savior who died in our place, that we might have the strength to endure our own little crosses. A Savior who showed us how beautiful it is to endure pain and suffering when we have something amazing waiting on the other side—something like paradise.

Holding my child will be paradise.

And yet, still nothing compared to seeing Jesus face to face, and spending eternity with Him.

 

Grace & Such strives to advance Christian growth among women. While we believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God, we also recognize human interpretations are imperfect. Grace & Such encourages our readers to open their Bibles, pray for wisdom and study for themselves what the Word says. For more about who we are, please visit the About Us page.

Natalie Liounis

Natalie is a ginger and lover of Jesus, dogs, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, cooking, and hockey. She lives in Annapolis with her husband and dog, and she coordinates the writing center at a small community college on Maryland's eastern shore. In other words, her dreams have come true.
Natalie Liounis

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1 Comment

  1. Ruth on March 22, 2019 at 6:04 PM

    Natalie….as I read the start of this I immediately thought of childbirth… not only the physical process but that it quite literally up-ends life as you thought you knew it. But with God’s grace and abundant provision we carry on…. until the next big “pain”…. and in that space we find again that God carries us through….
    ……. mom of five…. used to be ginger….oh one of those effects of 5 kids, I’m gray now….. career labor nurse and life long learner….

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