Childbirth is warfare against darkness
Laboring is warfare
My wife and I had the joy of welcoming our third child (a daughter) into the world a couple weeks ago. When we think of childbirth (and see it depicted), we often get a “softer” picture of what is happening in that moment. After all, a sweet baby has just been born and it needs softness and care and snuggles. We rejoice in the good gift being received! However, anyone who has experienced or been present during childbirth knows that it is much more like warfare. Laboring is called “labor” for a reason. It’s hard work that requires persistence, endurance, agony, and mental fortitude.
The cries of contractions are the cries of a warrior pushing against the onslaught of the curse of sin and an enemy who hates her and her child. And as the battle rages, so does she.
My wife was in active labor for 24 hours with our most recent daughter. That’s enough time for the average marathon runner to run over 5 marathons, without stopping. But what always strikes me as I helplessly watch my wife going through the physical and emotional toll of laboring is that she is waging war. My wife is in the middle of a battle. She has no option to take a rest. She is focused, determined, stubborn, and fierce. The cries of contractions are the cries of a warrior pushing against the onslaught of the curse of sin and an enemy who hates her and her child. And as the battle rages, so does she.
Satan hates the birth of children
Ever since God promised that the woman would bear a child who would crush the head of the serpent (Gen. 3:15), the great Dragon has been raging against children. He only wants to steal, kill, and destroy all who bear God’s image (John 10:10). He seeks to destroy “the least of these” (Matt. 25:40, 45), the most vulnerable of God’s image-bearers. He knows that humans are saved (and him vanquished) by a woman giving birth (Gal. 4:4; 1 Tim. 2:15).
John gets an inside look into what is happening in this spiritual war in Revelation 12. In that vision, we see a woman in the agony of childbirth, and a dragon. The woman is giving birth to “a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron” (Rev. 12:5). Crouching before the birth canal is a dragon who seeks to “devour” the baby (Rev. 12:4). Unsuccessful (and cast down), the dragon becomes furious and wages “war on the rest of her offspring” (Rev. 12:17). Make no mistake… Satan hates it when children are born and he actively wars against it.
God wages war in the birth of children
In Leviticus 20, Israel faces a demon-god (Molech) who demands the violent sacrifice of human babies (Lev. 20:1-5). God forbids Israel from doing so. Instead, he denounces the demon-god by name, he says he will cut off all who practice this abomination and “close their eyes” to it (Lev. 20:4). Jesus states that this murderous spirit was in Satan from the beginning (John 8:44).
As God promises the war he will wage in Isaiah 42, you get a strong image of a “mighty man, like a man of war” that “stirs up his zeal; he cries out, he shouts aloud…” (Is. 42:13). But in the next verse, God states that these cries are “like a woman in labor” (Is. 42:14). God will gasp and pant and he will “turn the darkness before them into light” (Is. 42:16). God is the mighty warrior who wages war through spiritual labor pains until salvation is birthed.
The cry of the mother is a cry against the darkness
As I held my wife’s hand in the throes of her labor, I felt desperate. I was an emotional wreck watching the battle she was waging alone. But she wasn’t alone. The mighty God was with her and in her, giving her strength to see the glory on the other side. The battle was fierce and long but the battle was worth it. As she let out the sounds of her warfare, tears streamed down my face. She was stronger in that moment than I ever will be. She was battling, not against the pain, but against the prince of the power of the air that seeks to keep this world in darkness and death (Eph. 2:2). She was looking the great dragon in the face and stating boldly, “You will not win. You will not have this child. She will live!” It became clear to me at that moment that in a world which is under the curse of death, my wife was warring against the darkness and screaming, “Death will not win. Life! Life! Life!”
I believe that in the birth of our daughter, all of heaven rejoiced and all of hell mourned. As my wife pushed out our daughter, darkness was pushed back another inch. Another battle was won and the dragon was one step closer to his final destruction. Dear mother, I thank you. As a man, I will never know the powerful experience of bearing life and waging war in this way. The mighty God who fights to save his people was fighting with you at that moment. And in a world filled with darkness and death, the battle cries of childbirth ring out with the fury of a holy God, “Death will not win. I declare life!” And when labor has reached its consummation and the battle is won, the new life of God is pure beauty and joy. It is battle-wrought, long-labored, blood-bought, victorious joy. All glory be to God.