When my daughter Ashley told me she wanted to have an un-medicated birth, I supported her 100% . Yet deep inside, I knew what an unmedicated birth felt like because I've been there and done that many times before. Because this was Ashley's first child, I knew she didn't know. My initial instinct was to spare her that pain.
"This is your window," I told her right before I knew the hard pains would hit, when there would be no turning back.
"I can do this." Ashley said.
When those hard pains hit, Ashley was surrounded with those who loved her - those who would help her see that joy was almost hers to own - right there, just out of her reach, after she took a deep breath and pushed through.
Then it was my turn to be brave, my turn to encourage when all I wanted to do was comfort - my turn to say, "You can do this."
And she did.
Now as she faces those early difficult days after giving birth with the exhaustion only new motherhood brings, she knows she can do hard things.
So God allows us to choose pain so that we can experience joy. When we face our biggest fears we are free at last to discover deep inner strength - a reservoir of courage we did not know was there.
But God knows, God cares and God always surrounds us with those who love us - both seen and unseen - to tell us when we most want to give up. . .
"You can do this.
Don't give up.
Joy is coming.
You're not alone.
You're almost there."