27th Sunday in Ordinary Time
2 Tim 1:6-8,13-14
God’s gift was not of timidity, but the Spirit of power, and love, and self-control.”
Today’s verse is one that I hold very close to my heart. It was one of my guiding verses when I delivered my second child. I had always wanted to deliver my children as naturally as I could, without the aid of painkillers or any intervention. Whilst my pregnancy was far from normal, it wasn’t complicated, and after taking much guidance from my gynecologist, we decided that a natural birth was not impossible. I shall caveat this by saying that this was a choice that I made, based on my circumstances at that point, and my experience is by no means something that I am touting for all pregnant mothers to follow. It is your body, therefore your choice. The point of sharing my experience is how today’s verse became an anchor for me when faced with doubt and fear.
Personally, the idea of giving birth at that time without painkillers was one that I was terrified of. It is bad enough that in all the shows that one sees, labour is always depicted as a painful experience. I tried to pep myself up by surrounding myself with positive birthing thoughts, but as the delivery date came and went with no progress in sight, I started to get nervous. I tried to calm myself with meditation. I wondered when it came to it, how was I going to get this baby out, at the size that I was, and the doubt became fear which seized me into a panic. One night, I could not sleep, so I stayed up and started drawing up positive birth affirmations. Somehow, I turned to the Bible, and today’s verse popped out at me: “God did not give us a spirit of cowardice” – why did I have to feel intimidated by the thoughts that were fed into my head? Did not God lovingly create me and give me the body that I needed to nourish my baby and bring him to term? And if He could bring such a miracle to being, then surely, He would see through the delivery, just as He did with my mother, and my mother’s mother, and all their mothers before them.
He has given us a spirit of “power, love and self-control”. What a wonderful and generous God we have! The power – the strength, will, and endurance – to see through life’s challenges, even in the face of fear. We have the innate power to stare down that fear. When I finally went into labour at Week 42, the surges were intense but not unmanageable. I took comfort in knowing that I could do this. I was not at risk, and I had a good team to support me. I left the medical part of the delivery to them and focused on birthing with God’s strength.
This child was one that we had prayed for fervently and as he kicked and tumbled within me, I spoke to him so that he would know my voice. I was excited to finally meet him, and even before he came out, I loved him, as an expectant mother would love her child. This love fed my faith that God would protect us and I truly felt a strong sense of love encircling me and my child during delivery. I thought of our Blessed Mother Mary, who would have felt even more alone without her mother and in a foreign land, miles from home, birthing her first child, the Messiah. One can only guess the stress that she might have endured – what if the birth had complications? This was the Messiah! Where was she to find support? Or shelter? Medication, if something went wrong? There was no fancy medical equipment then to tell if the baby was in breach or had a low heart rate. But her faith in God never wavered, and when my own strength did, I leaned on her faith, and love for my child, to get through the delivery.
It was very tempting to curse at the pain and yell at my husband during the intense parts but by this time, I was so deep within myself in the birthing process that I was able to shut out everything. Mother Mary was my guide – her love and sense of duty to God despite her circumstances, to honour this blessing that God had bestowed upon her – it humbled me and gave me that self-control that I needed to push out whatever thoughts that did not serve me and focus on my own duty to my child, and to this wonderful gift that God had given me – my son.
Is this too much to stomach? Perhaps. But this was my experience. Perhaps you might have a different sort of experience at present – to speak up for something that you feel is not right but afraid to do so for fear of looking ridiculous or mistreated, or even dismissed. To fight for a just cause, but worried that you might not have the strength to see it through till the end. To stand firm for a personal decision, but anxious that you might be cut off from family or friends. The things that mean the most to us will always require a hard-worn fight from us, but for every important thing that you need to fight for, be it love, a relationship, a belief, or a life – anything – remember the spirit that God has given you: power, love and self-control. It is already in us, now it is time to claim it.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Annette Soo)
Prayer: Lord, we pray for everyone who is standing in the face of doubt and fear, no matter the size of their problems. We pray that we may not submit to fear but rise above it and face it with the spirit that You have already blessed us with, and in so doing claim this promise for ourselves and give You all praise and glory.
Thanksgiving: Almighty Father who created us so lovingly, thank you for blessing us with a spirit so full of possibility, so strong and so prepared. Help us to call upon it that we may understand that it is through Your love for us that we are able to face our fears with love, not fear.