The Agony in the Garden of the 40th Week
by Kaitlyn Mason
Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane… He advanced a little and fell prostrate in prayer, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:36 & 39)
Motherhood, and pregnancy in particular, brings us to the side of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane in a powerful way. Unlike the Garden of Eden that once held the conditional promises of eternal peace, the Garden of Gethsemane is an earthly garden where we must await inevitable suffering.
We know just as Christ did that with this suffering comes inexplicable joy! Christ knew He would rise from the dead, comfort His friends and Mother on earth, and then ascend to His throne in Heaven. But that didn’t remove His agony as He anticipated suffering.
Christ knew that His suffering on the cross would bring new lives to Heaven. Mothers know that their suffering in childbirth brings new life into the world.
I have found that childbirth is an extremely mental and spiritual process, and one that has really stretched my faith and self-confidence. It forces me to completely rely on Christ.
As I write these words now in my 40th week of pregnancy, looking down at the little life moving around inside of me, I am very aware that at some point, this child has to come out!
What Mother does not pray for her childbirth experience to be smooth, easy, and as pain free as possible? What Mother when her hour has come does not think or pray, “Lord, if it is possible, ease my pain, and let this cup pass me by!”
I once heard about a woman who hit the tough part of labor and locked herself in the hospital bathroom. She told everyone, “I’m not doing this!” And you know what? I get that. No one wants to suffer. And every birth requires the Mother to suffer in some way.
All humans must suffer in Gethsemane with Christ in some way, in anticipation of our own cross and Calvary, all because of the choices of mankind in Eden.
As the snake approached Eve in the Garden of Eden, so did Judas approach the New Adam in Gethsemane. Eve fell into the temptations of the devil and coerced Adam to join her in sin. Yet Mary, the New Eve, through her childbirth and Motherhood to Christ, crushed the head of that ancient serpent. This allowed Christ, the New Adam, to be strengthened and empowered by His Mother’s love as He conquered satan through submissiveness to the will of His Father.
Adam and Eve surrendered to the serpent, while Jesus and Mary surrendered to God.
So while Eve has a terrible influence on Adam, the New Eve strengthens the New Adam. In Mary’s example, we witness the significance of childbirth and the necessity in this world of the powerful and incredible love of a Mother!
Now, I’ll admit I’ve held a grudge against Eve. When I was younger, I always told people I wanted to have children, I just didn’t want to have children… meaning I didn’t want to go through childbirth. I always thought, “You know, I’m going to have a word with Eve when I get up to Heaven… this suffering thing is all her fault!”
During my previous labors, I’ve thought about Eve’s ridiculous choice to listen to that snake: If she’d had a little more willpower and trust in God, maybe I’d have a painless childbirth! And this world would be paradise!
But in the end, I have to remind myself that I’m no better than Eve. I’m human and guilty of sin just the same.
And yet what a privilege it is to suffer with Christ! Our time on earth is short, and do we realize this is our only chance to suffer for Him? After this life, once we are in Heaven, there is no more suffering! Game over. This life on earth is our only opportunity to connect with Christ’s suffering on Calvary.
You know the great thing about suffering? Eventually it will end! And we will realize in the end that it was never without purpose!
Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. And let perseverance be perfect, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1: 2-4)
There are many ways that women give birth. There’s no right or wrong way. All of them do require some form of suffering, but it is brief. It is miniscule. It is nothing compared to the inexplicable joy that comes from beholding the face of your child – a child who is made in your image, made in the image of your spouse, and likewise made in the image and likeness of Christ!!!
And so we women who are blessed to be pregnant and carrying a life within us all the way into the 40th week of pregnancy, fully to term, do well to sit at the side of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. We do well to keep watch with Him and to accompany Him in this time of trial and suffering. We do well to imitate Him in preparation for our own cross and Calvary. We do well to join Him, spiritually or physically prostrate in prayer, completely submissive to the will of the Father!
God bless all of the Mothers out there, and thank you for your strength and courage in following God’s will for your life and bringing children into this world!
Copyright 2016 Kaitlyn Mason