When Life Feels Like Labor Pains

by Kia Stephens August 3, 2023
"We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies." Romans 8:22-23 (NIV)

I remember labor with both of my children.

The oldest entered the world with textbook contractions: gradually intensifying, peaking and then subsiding, with a well-deserved break in between.

That was soon forgotten 19 months later when I went into labor with my youngest child. I thought I had childbearing all figured out … until my body decided to do something different.

The youngest son made his grand entrance with what is called “contraction coupling.” This happens when two or more successive contractions occur without the coveted break to separate them. Essentially, the pain intensifies, peaks and then peaks again without returning to the original baseline.

To say that I was begging for mercy is an understatement. I wanted whatever aid I could get, and I gladly accepted when the nurses injected something into my IV to take the edge off, but by that point, it was time to push.

It was exhausting to say the least! But somehow God managed to get an 8-pound child out of my worn-out body. That little baby has now morphed into a tween, but sometimes I still reflect on the contraction coupling I endured.

Here comes another one, I remember thinking. My body tensed up with anxiety. I held my breath in anticipation of the inevitable pain and gripped the hospital bed railings in an attempt to brace myself.

Sometimes I feel like this in life too. Bad news has a similar effect on me. I learn of one traumatic event — a shooting, a war, a crime, a natural disaster — and then my body reacts. I tense up, hold my breath, feel anxious, and attempt to brace myself for the next bad report I hear. Bad news seems to be coming more and more frequently. Before I have a chance to recover, there is another occurrence of equal or greater concern.

Just like contractions, life's challenges can be “coupled” too. I believe this is what the Apostle Paul was referring to in the book of Romans as he recounted the increasing impact of sin in our world. Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit in the garden of Eden (Genesis 3), and we are still dealing with the consequences. Their hasty decision led to personal and collective suffering, moral decay, and a longing for the day when Christ will free humanity from the ramifications of sin.

Paul likened this longing to the pains a woman experiences in childbirth. He said, “We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies” (Romans 8:22-23).

If the events in our individual and collective lives feel like ever-increasing coupling contractions, it is no surprise. The Apostle Paul explains that creation is groaning, longing and waiting for Christ’s return. With every subsequent bad report, creation is saying, “Come, Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20c, ESV).

As we lament the tragedies of wars, shootings, political mayhem and natural disasters, we are reminded that a day is coming when all lament will end for those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ (Revelation 21:4). Until then, this world is not our home. We are living in this world but not of it. We are residents but not citizens, and we inwardly long for the day when our Savior will return and liberate us from death and decay.

Though we experience sorrow in this world as we wait, we also wait in hope, knowing Jesus will return and redeem creation once and for all. When life’s traumatic events intensify like labor pains, we can rest in the fact that our Savior’s return is imminent.

Dear God, thank You for the hope we find in You. As we endure the pain caused by sin and death in this fallen world, help us to wait in eager anticipation for the day when You will return and make all things right. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.


Broken relationships can be a source of great pain on this side of heaven — and if you have been hurt, neglected, rejected or abandoned by your father, it may feel like every aspect of life is affected by that broken trust. But there is hope. In Overcoming Father Wounds: Exchanging Your Pain for God’s Perfect Love, Kia Stephens shares her own story along with eye-opening examples of wounded women in Scripture who were transformed by the love of God. Get your copy here!

We’re taking the month of August to focus on the topic of prayer on The Proverbs 31 Ministries Podcast! Join us as we talk about the power of prayer, how to navigate being disappointed and still show up to pray, and how prayer can help us work through anxiety. Click here to listen to the first episode, and make sure you are subscribed so you don't miss the rest of the series!



Download a free chapter of Kia’s new book here, and join her on her YouTube channel as she delves deeper into the topic “When Life Feels Like Labor Pains.”


John 16:21, “A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world” (NIV).

How are you encouraged by the reality that one day Christ will return and liberate creation? Share with us in the comments!

© 2023 by Kia Stephens. All rights reserved.

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