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Pregnancy Sickness and the Gospel

On Friday, April 23rd, I decided to give a pregnancy test another go. I wasn’t very expectant for the results I wanted as I had googled early pregnancy symptoms and felt that I had none of them, so this time, instead of eagerly waiting in the bathroom for five minutes, I left the test, flipped over, and walked away. It wasn’t until my husband asked me what the thing on the counter was that I realized I had totally forgotten about it. So I went back to the bathroom and flipped over the test. The next moment, my eyes met those two parallel lines I had hoped for. My heart was filled with thanks. I tried so hard to hold back my excitement as I wanted to surprise my husband and get his reaction on video later in the day, but he was onto me as I couldn’t stop smiling.

Soon after, I binge-watched Youtube pregnancy videos that covered first-trimester must-haves, diet, exercise, etc. In the first couple of weeks, I worked out and kept a healthy diet more consistently than I had in a long time. But soon after, the pregnancy sickness kicked in, and I felt unable to do the simplest tasks. I’d wake up nauseous and go throughout my day in persistent exhaustion and sickness. The nausea would sometimes cease for a couple of hours, but it’d plague me for most of the day. Not too long after this, I began to get terrible headaches daily; some days, I’d lie on the couch and stare at the ceiling for a while.

So one morning, as I was complaining to my husband about how terrible I felt, He prayed for me and included something in his prayer that I thought was profound. He said that my pregnancy sickness was a picture of the Gospel. Those words comforted me and served as an encouragement when I was tempted to be thankless to God for the child He had given me. In my exhaustion, nausea, vomiting, and headaches, I was pointed to the Lord, who was tried far more for the sake of His children.

Though I still wish for my remaining sickness to pass, I’m thankful for God's wisdom and goodness, which sees fit that many women suffer during their pregnancies. If it weren’t God’s will for women to suffer in the childbearing process, then no women would suffer, but the fact that many do reveal that God has chosen for it to be so. But why? How can pregnancy sickness point us to the Gospel?

Suffering that Leads to Life

No doubt, it takes a toll on the body to sustain and grow human life. It amazes me how quickly babies develop in the womb. At 3-4 weeks, our baby was the size of a grain of sugar, and now he or she is the size of a peach at just 14 weeks. From the moment of conception to birth, life is rapidly growing in the womb, and for many women, this causes bodily suffering. Yet, this is completely normal. I was comforted to discover that pregnancy sickness is often a sign of a healthy pregnancy; it communicates that everything is going according to plan.

While a loving mother wants a healthy child, being nauseous and exhausted for hours on end doesn’t quite meet a person’s desires. Still, mothers suffer months of physical pain for the sake of their child’s life. Without the pains of pregnancy sickness, and childbirth, there is no human life. The creation of life necessitates suffering.

Surely this connection between suffering and life isn’t descriptive of pregnancy alone. Here’s where I see a picture of the Gospel. Think of Christ with me–He was the God-man who suffered to bring life to His children. Through the pains of Christ, we are born again. The creation of our spiritual life necessitates a Suffering Servant.

This analogy of birth and life isn’t my artistic word choice– these are the words Scripture uses to describe salvation. When the Pharisee Nicodemus comes to Jesus inquiring about who He is, Jesus tells Nicodemus that He must be born again (John 3:3). Jesus wasn’t speaking foolishly, telling Nicodemus to enter his mother’s womb again. This is clear because shortly after, Jesus tells Nicodemus that whoever believes in Him may have eternal life (John 3:15).

So why does Jesus use these words? I believe it was to communicate this: at the moment of salvation, we receive new and everlasting life. Just as a child intakes its first breath of oxygen after birth, we inhale heavenly glories for the first time ever. At last, we can see the light of Christ when all we knew before was the darkness of our mother’s womb.

Yet, none of this is possible without the sufferings of our Savior. Apart from the cries of pain that Christ let forth, there is no life for His children. In fact, apart from His suffering, there are no children of God at all. Isaiah makes this clear by saying, “But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed” (Is. 53:5). It is because of Christ’s affliction that we have peace with God and are made His children. If Christ had not suffered, none would be born again or have eternal life.

Even in the Old Testament, before Christ was crucified, believers were saved by believing in the Messiah to come. Their sacrifices didn’t save them; instead, they pointed to the One who was to suffer on their behalf (Rom. 3:25-26). As Scripture says, “For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins” (Heb 10:4). Therefore, Christ needed to be afflicted and crushed to bring new birth and life to His people. Just as with childbirth, the children of God are born through affliction–not our affliction, but Christ’s. We did nothing and suffered nothing to be born of God; we merely accepted the grace of our Lord. So it is with children–while their mothers suffer sickness and pain, their child merely receives the gift of life.

This is magnificent. Though we women feel the effects of the fall as we suffer in pregnancy and childbirth, we are able to be sanctified by gazing upon the one who also suffered to produce life for His children. We feel the pains resulting from our own sin, but our Savior felt the pains of sin that were not His. In our pregnancy, we come to know that the creation and development of life necessitates suffering, but we suffer out of love for our children. And as we are tried this way, we have the blessing of being able to more clearly see and understand the One who suffered far more to bring new life and birth to His children. Praise and honor be to the Suffering Servant who now sits at the right hand of the Father on high.

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin”

Hebrews 4:15


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