Friday, August 29, 2014

Is Childbirth Really a Miracle?


I am always hearing in women’s media some celebrity mom say something like, “I gave birth…it was such a miracle.” What do they mean by miracle? Is it an event in which nature is defied, a divine act, or just another way to say super cool? 
It has nearly become a cliché, because when you think about it, women have been having babies since time immemorial, and it is a pretty earthly, organic experience -- one that occurs in nature all the time. Is that really a miracle? Aren’t miracles supposed to break the rules of nature?
I am about to give birth for the second time and to be honest, I would really like to think of it in miraculous terms, but I don’t want to just say that because it is expected, especially when there is a lot of evidence pointing to the contrary. So let’s get to the bottom of it. Theologically speaking, is birth a miracle?

It really comes down to the nature of miracles themselves. There are many miracles throughout Scripture and found in Christian experience through the ages. They have different meanings and significance. In one instance, God brings forth manna for the Israelites from the sky. In another instance, Jesus heals a blind man by rubbing spit and dirt over his eyelids, incorporating natural elements. Jesus’ first miraculous act of the New Testament is to turn water into wine. He breaks the rules of nature, but in another way, he simply accelerates the natural processes that He (the Triune) God had already created – the normal pattern of fruit fermenting into wine.
It would, therefore, seem that there are distinctions or differences among miracles. In reference to God’s miracles, C.S. Lewis states, “some of the miracles do locally what God has already done universally: others do locally what He has not yet done, but will do. In that sense, and for our human point of view, some are reminders and other prophecies.” In other words, some of the miracles of Christ, such as turning water into wine, reveal the inherent miraculous nature of God’s creation, his abundance, his goodness, his blessing of providing us with food and drink. When Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead, however, it is prophetic. It points to the miracle of what is to come -- the resurrection of all his followers and the banishment of all death and decay. 
So, how does this relate to childbirth, because I still want to know if I am about to witness a miracle in a week or two? Turns out all those celebrity moms are right. Birth is a miracle! I would say that the creation of life is miraculous, and that in childbirth we, like our God, get to participate in this amazing miracle. Jesus being born of the Virgin Mary accelerates and highlights the miracle of the Father begetting life. What is done locally, Jesus being born of a virgin, reveals what is done universally, God created life out of nothing. Jesus born of Mary shows the elaborate and intricate process of life being created and handed down throughout the ages in a rich, complex, and mysterious process. I think one last quote from Lewis will help us put this question to rest, “Behind every spermatozoon lies the whole history of the universe: locked within it is no small part of the world’s future. That is God’s normal way of making a man -- a process that takes centuries, beginning with one creation of matter itself, and narrowing to one second and one particle moment of begetting,” (God in the Dock, “Miracles,” 30).  Childbirth is straight-up miraculous because God is at work creating life through and outside all time. He was at work in the manger in Bethlehem over 2,000 years ago, and he will be at work in Munroe Regional Medical Center in Ocala, Florida, in our little hospital room. I am deeply moved and humbled by this thought. I think the words of Mary are most appropriate.
“My soul glorifies the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
for the Mighty One has done great things for me –
holy is his name.” (Luke 1: 46-49)




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