This week’s church family blog thought is from Carren Marvin…
When I use the pregnancy metaphor to think of God being “with” me, I feel a surreal sense of comfort. Like the resilience of even a frail woman’s body, He protects me as I am being shaped and formed in His image.
Pregnancy. It’s a strange coexistence of pain and beauty.
One week the baby tucked inside is growing toenails and fingernails. Another week he is starting to grow hair on his head. And every woman remembers the flittering moment when she first felt her baby move in utero! Somehow the nausea, the back pain, and the edema get shoved aside in the presence of this miracle. New babies are conceived and others are born every day, yet this process is still spectacular every single time.
For obvious reasons, I’m sure Jesus’s mother Mary holds the record for the most jaw-dropping pregnancy, but Scripture reports her pregnancy in much the same way as the pre-term months of other Biblical women. She became “with child” (Matthew 1:18) when the Holy Spirit came over her; when she and Joseph were on their way to the census reporting, she was very much “with child” (Luke 2:5). Modern translations of the Bible change the wording to “pregnant” or “about to become a mother,” but the gentle euphemism “with child” still makes its way into Nativity plays each Christmas season as bathrobe-clad children reenact the beautiful story of Christ’s birth.
Not coincidentally, the conception and birth of Christ brought a new name for the Messiah. When Isaiah prophesied of His coming and Matthew filled in the details centuries later, Christ—the Messiah—would be known from Mary’s conception and thereafter as “Emmanuel,” meaning “God is with us” (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23).
God often says in Scripture that He is with someone, yet this new Name seems to carry a special significance. “Emmanuel” is introduced in connection with the conception, pregnancy, and birth of Jesus Christ. Could it be, then, that “Emmanuel” offers a metaphor for how passionately God is “with” us? Just as Mary was “with child,” is it too much of a stretch to think of God, from that point on, being “with” us? After all, there is precious hope in knowing that God carries us with as much care as a mother carries her unborn child (Isaiah 66).
Through some “high-risk” bumps in the road of my own pregnancies, I learned an amazing scientific fact: the pregnant mother’s body always feeds, bleeds, and breathes for her baby first. Having a rare blood disorder, my body provided all of my good blood for my babies first, which, in my case, left an insufficient supply for me each time. My boys were born with perfect Apgar scores because my body nurtured them with all of my healthy blood. Nonetheless, my OB kindly suggested that I quit while I was ahead because another pregnancy could be life-threatening for me.
When I use the pregnancy metaphor to think of God being “with” me, I feel a surreal sense of comfort. Like the resilience of even a frail woman’s body, He protects me as I am being shaped and formed in His image. Tucked away under His wings (Psalm 91:4), I squirm and kick, yet He continues to breathe life into me through His Spirit and feed me with His Word. Indeed, He even bled for me. In the same way that my pregnant body supplied blood for my babies, God infused the blood of His Son into me so that I could live.
When I realized that another pregnancy could cost me my life, I stopped having children. God’s love for us saw beyond the cost of life, though. He gave His blood so that He could present us full-term, so to speak, “holy and blameless” (Colossians 1:22), with perfect spiritual Apgar scores.
Despite all the grief and mayhem you cause as you grow into the image of Christ, be assured that your Heavenly Father glows with pride over His creation—over you. He endured night sweats, heartburn, and fatigue just to birth you. Rest in His womb, dear friend, as He forms and celebrates every tiny part of you.