Living Lessons from Galatians 4.19
Do you know how I feel right now, and will feel until Christ's life becomes visible in your lives? Like a mother in the pain of childbirth. (The Message)Paul writes of travail, intense laboring with pain and sorrow and anguish, a birthing -- so that he might see Christ formed in these, his beloved Galatians. He writes in present tense; the story isn't completed. He is writing while yet in the pangs of childbirth.
My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you... (NKJV)
My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you... (KJV)
He had travailed on their behalf once before, when he first saw them established in the knowledge of Christ's provision. His previous labor had brought them deliverance from idols and gained them salvation through Christ.
But here we are, finding that they have wandered from the solid truth of the gospel, embracing the law, rather than the liberty of grace. And so, he finds himself once again in the pains of childbirth, desperate to see them go on to maturity, committed to their continued well-being.
The passage does not imply a need for renewed regeneration. Paul is, however, clearly concerned about their need to apprehend Christ -- that they might be, as Matthew Henry wrote, "...more confirmed and established in the faith of the gospel." They were in danger of being side-tracked, not maturing, failing to grasp all He had for them.
And so Paul labored once more. He travailed, anguished. He felt pain and sorrow. I'm willing to bet that he spent time on his face, weeping before God, moaning with grief for the lost time, the lost treasure in their heavenly account. Not afraid, but deeply moved with sadness.
Childbirth is arduous, exhausting, inescapable. Waves of discomfort, (dare I say it?) pain, sweep over you. I distinctly recall saying to my doctor, when in the midst of such pain and sorrow, "It's a good thing there's a baby at the end of all this."
Paul travailed with hope. He had a vision, a goal. He entrusted God with his labor -- the first time, the second time, and I'm sure, every time.
I will do the same.