Birthing Is Struggle
Half of us will never know what it is actually like to gestate and give birth to another human being. Intuition tells me that there is not likely to be any experience that can be compared to that sacred human endeavor. That being said, there are many other human endeavors that we describe as giving birth. “Giving Birth” becomes a place holder for times of particular struggle when something new is coming into being. When I was writing my doctoral dissertation, if felt very much like something new was being birthed. The development of new communities, new relationships and new ministries can also be described as a birthing process. This same birthing process is a regular event in our discipleship and spiritual development as we are always in the process of becoming. Old habits and biases give way to new expressions of faithfulness and trust in God. There is nothing easy about this process. It often requires that we let go of something (sometimes a very difficult task) and/or embrace a new understanding of God and a new sense of self.
COVID Is Birthing Something in Us
We might not always see it, but this time of COVID 19 Pandemic is a birthing time. What is being birthed is still not clear. On the one hand, in this time of upheaval we have all witnessed some incredible acts of generosity that are being extended to those in our community who have been put most at risk. Many of us have accepted the reality and the challenge of this time by physically distancing, wearing face coverings curtailing our commercial activities and sacrificing a lot of face to face experience. We do this because we recognize that this is how we extend love to each other in the time of a global pandemic. There is nothing easy about doing it. It was difficult to learn and even more difficult to maintain. On the other hand, we have also seen amongst some of our neighbors a frightening rise of tribalism and selfishness that effectively puts the whole community at risk. It is painful to watch how some of our neighbors seem unwilling to think about anyone or anything other than themselves and their own needs.
New Life Is the Endgame
While there are painful exceptions to the rule, not every pregnancy ends with new life, the expectation of gestation is that new life is the outcome. A new child, who will change our life, our relationships and our habits in the world is soon to arrive. This same thing can be said, to some extent, about anything we might refer to as a birthing experience. Something new and life giving is the outcome of these birthing experiences. As we have considered Jacob’s life, we are now heading toward the endgame of his difficult and sometimes tortured life. He has paid a price for his scheming and has put his life at risk, now on the eve of seeing again the brother he cheated, whom he believes still seeks his life, Jacob wrestles with God. He has wrestled with faith, with his choices, with his fears and uncertainty. This story is actual and metaphorical. When the morning comes, Jacob is no more, Israel is born. Jacob would never be the same and through this rebirth we see reconciliation and renewal break forth unexpectedly. Jacob and Esau are restored, and a new chapter begins. No matter how painful this birthing process may be God continues to work to begin a new chapter for us.