What does it feel like to be in the center of God’s will?
Sometimes it feels like the pains of childbirth.
In Galatians 4:19, Paul makes this striking aside: “[M]y little children, for whom I am again in the anguish of childbirth until Christ is formed in you!”
A few observations…
He compares his anguish to the anguish of childbirth. Ouch! That is a lot of anguish.
He says he is “again” in this anguish. This is not the first time he has felt this level of pain. Ouch! That is a lot of anguish.
And what is especially interesting to me is that at this very moment Paul is standing in the absolute center of God’s will.
Paul is talking about a moment when he is working to see Christ formed in them. He is working in love. He is working for the Galatians. His motives are good. Paul is doing the very mission to which Jesus called his followers, to make disciples. Paul is in the center of God’s will.
And yet, what does it feel like to be in the center of God’s will? What does it feel like to advance the mission in this season of Paul’s life? The pains of childbirth.
When we remember that the highest form of love is self-sacrifice (John 15:13), I suppose the presence of pain should not be surprising. Love will cost us. Love will hurt.
But the strange encouragement I find today is that the anguish doesn’t mean we’re off. The personal pain doesn’t mean we’re outside of God’s will. The inner travails of our soul do not mean God has abandoned us. Just the opposite maybe.
The struggle could mean we’re in the center of God’s plan. It could mean we are most mirroring His heart. It could mean we’re making progress. It could mean we’re fighting the good fight of faith.
In a tough year, in a pandemic year, in a year of turmoil and change, in the ebbs and flows of parenting and politics and life and work and ministry, it is encouraging to know the struggles can actually mean progress in God’s will for our lives.
“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – Jesus (John 16:33b, NIV)