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Born Again Sanctification: How does God use our suffering for our good?

Updated: May 22, 2023

An Excerpt from the soon to be released book, "Woven in the Womb"

A Christian Devotion on how the birth experience models how suffering sanctifies the Christian. Suffering is purposeful
Birth movements of labor in a vaginal delivery

Born Again Sanctification: A Devotion on Childbirth

How does God use suffering for our good?

When pain is purposeful, we can endure it.

Birth is a purposeful pain. There is a prize at the end that allows women to face one of the scariest moments of their lives. Baby girl is worth it. Little guy is worth waiting for.

Understanding the journey of a baby through the birth canal is an important part of understanding what to expect in labor. The baby needs to go through a journey of tucking and turning in such a way that the easiest diameters fit through the narrowest parts. Many babies follow this path to a vaginal delivery but not all are able to complete the journey.

There are many variables that affect a baby’s path. Is the baby too big to fit through the tunnel? Is the tunnel too narrow?

The distance from womb to delivery is roughly the length of an adult’s hand. And yet it can be the longest distance in the world - especially for a tired mama on the third day of her labor induction.

As a baby journeys through the birth canal, his movements are purposeful. If he does not tuck his chin into his chest at the right time, he will be trapped in the birth canal. Birth mechanics are simple in theory but one missed movement may be the difference between a vaginal delivery and the need for a cesarean section. The journey from the womb to the world is both beautiful and broken.

For Christians, we are “born again” when we accept the gift of Jesus for salvation and eternal life. But there is a difference between being saved and being sanctified in this broken world.

Being saved by Christ is a gift. Being sanctified, or set apart for Christ, requires a cost.

Each of the baby’s movements through the birth canal is an essential posture before his first cry. Similarly, the suffering Christian undergoes “sanctifying postures” that can either sour or deepen her relationship with God.

The following is a description of a baby’s movements that parallel sanctification for a Christian.

1) Engagement: The baby descends into the pelvis and chooses to “engage” the birth process.

When we are going through seasons of suffering, we choose whether or not we will engage with God. We can try to “fix” problems on our own or we can engage in conversation with God. We must ask ourselves if He is trustworthy enough to carry our burdens for us.

2) (Neck) Flexion: The baby’s chin is tucked into his chest, looking down at his feet. His head is cradled by the pelvic muscles.

When we suffer, our faces are downcast. We tend to focus inward. We can spend time wallowing, but then we must ask ourselves who we worship more. Suffering reveals the lies we believe and the idols that we trust.

3) Internal Rotation: The baby rotates into the position that allows the most narrow part of his head to proceed under the pubic bone.

The beginning of our sanctification is when we turn away from ourselves and turn towards God. Suffering gives us perspective of how small our worlds are relative to God’s world.

4) Extension: The baby extends his head with eyes up to the sky as he begins crowning.

We must look up to Jesus as we choose to trust Him again and again. For it is only when we keep our eyes upward that we will see Him providing for our needs.

5) External Rotation: After his head has emerged, the baby rotates his head outward looking around his new world.

A posture that is now focused outward and upward can now bless others outside of ourselves.

6) Expulsion/Delivery of Shoulders and Body: The baby is placed skin-to-skin on his mother’s chest. Relief and peace flood the room.

We are given a new peace because of our pain. We have learned to trust in a God who delivers us in these moments. Our crosses have a new purpose. As perspectives shift towards eternity, a new foundation has been laid.

When a baby misses a step in birth movements, labor is prolonged. Obstetricians call the obstructed process “labor dystocia.” Suffering lasts longer and more interventions are needed. But if the obstetrician can help facilitate these movements by strengthening the contractions or rotating the baby’s position, a vaginal delivery is still possible.

When we suffer, we each spend a different amount of time in each stage of sanctification. At times we can become stalled in one of the postures, experiencing a “sanctification dystocia.”

Emotions are beautifully God-given, but certain emotions can also slow our healing. We suffer longer when bitterness stalls our sanctification. We may excuse our addictions because we believe we are owed. We may need help from professionals, ministry leaders, and others who have also experienced “sanctification dystocia.” Ultimately, only a tender-hearted Savior can deliver us from ourselves.

Reading the Bible to understand this tender-hearted Savior sanctifies our emotions. The words of Jesus will meet you in those dark places so that you can “internally rotate” away from yourself. The hope of heaven will keep your head “extended,” looking up to Jesus. A focus on an eternal kingdom will give you a peace that diffuses the spheres in which you “externally rotate.” You will find yourself with a new purpose.

In the womb of Christian sanctification, a new creation will be born again.

When a mother hears her son’s first cry, cost is no longer in the equation.

Just as when we bear our own crosses for the glory of God, we will stop counting what we are owed.

The shortest distances are often the most difficult ones to overcome. For a baby, an average of four inches can be the longest journey from the womb to the world. For the brokenhearted, a twelve inch gap spans the distance from the head to the heart.

However, a broken heart is healed when we treasure truth over emotion. Freedom is ours when we let go of what we are owed. Through the unexpected crosses of motherhood, God personalizes our own gospel stories. He weaves our stories into his so that we know He is with us. Always and forever.

Self-Reflection Questions:

1) What does my suffering teach me about Jesus? (Isaiah 53:3)

2) What does my suffering teach me about my sin? (Job 36:15)

3) Is God’s plan better than mine? (Luke 22:42)

4) Is God’s mercy enough for today’s trial? (Lamentations 3:21-33)

5) How will God use my bruises for His ministry?

(2 Corinthians 1:3-7)

6) Am I filled with the peace that surrounds the cross?

(John 14:27)


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