The Pain of Childbirth


After leaving Bethel, Rachel goes into labor.  It is hard labor.  She dies while birthing a son.  Scripture says, “With her last breath—for she was dying—she named him Ben-oni, but his father called him Benjamin” (Gen. 35:18).  Ben-oni means, “Son of my sorrow,” while Benjamin means, “Son of my right hand.”

This turn of names presents a compact picture of Christ.  Ben-oni, the son of sorrow, is connected to the death of Rachel (whose name means “ewe lamb”).  In him we see the Son who said, “My soul is swallowed up in sorrow—to the point of death,” just before He died on the cross (Matt. 26:38).  He is the Lamb of God (John 1:36).

But Jesus didn’t stay dead.  The Father raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand—a position of honor and strength (Eph. 1:20).  Foreshadowing this, Jacob, Ben-oni’s father, renamed him “Son of my right hand.” This shows us the power of new life—Christ, Firstborn from the dead (Col. 1:18).

In this story, there is also powerful encouragement for believers.  God is in the midst of bringing forth His Son in us.  Paul compared this process to the pains of childbirth (Gal. 4:19).  But the Holy Spirit is our midwife, and speaks the same word of encouragement as Rachel’s midwife: “Don’t be afraid, for you have a son” (Gen. 35:17).  When the process of bringing forth Christ becomes difficult and painful, don’t be afraid. God is bringing forth His Son; it is His crowning moment within.

Our fallen souls view this process as sorrow.  We consider Christ the Son of our sorrow.  His coming forth means death to our selves.  But the Father sees the bringing forth of Christ as birth and power to our souls.  As Christ forms within, is brought forth within, we experience a transition: from weakness, sorrow, and death to power, joy, and life.  In our experience, Ben-oni, “Son of my sorrow,” becomes Benjamin, “Son of my right hand.”

But to fully experience this transition, we must embrace the Father’s view.  Rachel did suffer while giving birth.  She didn’t live to see the new life that came from her.  Jacob, the father, perceived the whole process.  He saw the strength and new life of his son. We will suffer as Christ comes forth.  But we must lay aside our viewpoint, which cannot see past our own death.  We must trust what the Father sees and hold to the purpose inherent in sorrow and death: birth, new life, and power in the Son at God’s right hand.

Paul experienced this when he had the thorn in his flesh: the demonic messenger tormenting him.  He asked the Lord to take it away repeatedly.  It was, to him, a source of sorrow and suffering.  But the Lord said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9).  Paul saw the thorn as producing grief.  The Lord saw it as producing power—the power of Christ within Paul.  After the Lord opened Paul’s eyes to His view, Paul embraced the process (2 Cor. 12:9-10).  If we would know the Lord fully, we too must embrace the process our Father superintends.

So if you have been raised with the Messiah, seek what is above, where the Messiah is, seated at the right hand of God.  Set you minds on what is above, not on what is on the earth.  For you have died, and your life is hidden with the Messiah in God. When the Messiah, who is your life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory (Col. 3:1-4).

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