In a recent Wed Morning Prayer Meeting, I shared about the “birth pangs” people who are involved in intercessory prayer experience. I referred to Romans 8:22-25 from the Message: “All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it’s not only around us; it’s within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We’re also feeling the birth pangs. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.”
I acknowledged to the women in the prayer group that I could not identify with the birth pangs of a pregnant mother. But I do have some sense of experiencing spiritual birth pangs and in the process being enlarged. In this passage Paul locates our journey in the midst of a pregnant creation experiencing birth pangs. This is a reference to the fallen nature of our world. Our personal experience and the media make us aware of the suffering and pain in our world. These birth pangs are in expectancy of something greater to come. During this in-between time (the now and not yet) the Spirit is also being aroused within us. We feel the birth pangs as we live through a time of “great transition.” This is an enlarging experience as we anticipate deliverance in the reign of the kingdom of God.
Men, I experience the birth pangs of the human condition in my heart as I countenance what is happening around me. I am being enlarged as I “grieve” in prayer. I wonder what will happen to our country, to my family, to loved ones. I pray for those in leadership.. I pray that I might be an effective witness during the darkness that is descending. Yes, I am having birth pangs. But the encouraging aspect of this grieving is that I am being “enlarged,” being prepared for something greater. I plan to finish strong.
How am I being enlarged? First, in what I am beholding, the Spirit helps me carry the tension of my grieving by creating space within my soul. There is so much that is so wrong. The Holy Spirit helps give me a divine perspective, allowing me to be have a positive attitude in circumstances and with people. I don’t want to become a negative, angry, complaining man. Secondly, the enlarging give me the capacity to embrace the rancor, pain and negativity with a Christ like attitude. “Put simply: we must speak with confidence and tranquility, with kindness and gentleness, so that people will begin to say of us that we speak with a ‘Galilean’ accent that sounds a lot like Jesus” (Michael Cromartie).
Furthermore, Paul reminds us of the work of the Holy Spirit during this time of enlarging. “Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is working into something good” (Romans 8:22-25 – Message).