God’s plan of redemption depends on birth. In Genesis 3, the woman is promised that one day she would give birth to one who would crush the head of the serpent-deceiver. Adam then names his wife Eve, meaning life-giver, and God graciously allows life to go on, though under the curse of sin. Eve’s name is a testament to that grace and every subsequent birth is a picture of hope. But because of that curse, birth is not only more painful, but even becoming pregnant becomes more difficult, even for those of faith. In fact, many of these births could be considered miraculous. Consider these examples:
Abram and Sarai were barren for decade upon decade, to the point where Abram’s body was considered dead (Hebrews 11:12).
Rebekah was barren even as Isaac prayed for 20 years.
After Jacob, now Israel, moves to Egypt, the Hebrews lose favor with Pharoah, and the birth of any subsequent son depends on the bravery of the Hebrews midwives and God’s protection.
After enduring much ridicule from her rival and offering much prayer, barren Hannah receives Samuel whom she offers back to God.
Later, much later, after 400 years of silence, Zechariah and barren Elizabeth are stunned by their news of the expectant John.
Why did God choose to work this way? Why such waiting and agonizing over something that comes so easily to most other people? Why can’t God’s promises be fulfilled faster and easier? Does he wait so long because his people need to learn to depend on his power alone? I’m not sure. But I do know that every birth, since the birth of Cain and Abel, is a gift of grace and points to the second birth that we all must experience if we are to be apart of God’s family. And that second birth is truly miraculous.
“Jesus answered Nicodemus, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.'” John 3:3
“But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” John 1:12-13
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…” 1 Peter 1:3
I don’t know the exact circumstances of my first birth or yours, but I do know the miraculous nature of my second birth. And on that day, when the census is taken of Zion, the heavenly city, I hope you too will be among those of whom these words are spoken:
“The Lord records as he registers the peoples, ‘This one was born there.'” Psalm 87:6