Josh Irby

Live from Sarajevo

3 Lessons from the Labor and Delivery Room

Last Sunday, my wife and I welcomed our fourth child into the world. By “welcomed” I mean, my wife endured the excruciating process of labor and delivery while I held her hand, muttered sweaty prayers, and repeated “Your doing great!”

Few locations make me more thankful to be a man than a delivery room.

Photo credit George Ruiz (Creative Commons)

Photo credit George Ruiz (Creative Commons)

As I look back on the adventure of this past week, there are three lessons that stand out. These are lessons I want to apply in my life every day.

(1) We are all in the delivery room

While I remain grateful to play the support role in child-bearing, I cannot escape labor and delivery. We are all pregnant. We are all in labor. We must all face the delivery room.

What are you expecting?

A successful book?
Mature, obedient teenagers?
A project at work?
Change in your own heart?

What do you labor over?

This world is a giant delivery room where the not yet is developed until it becomes the now. The creation groans. We groan with it—

late nights under lamp light,
painful conversations through tears,
excruciating self-revelation.

Welcome to the delivery room.

(2) All life is born through pain

Here’s the thing about delivery rooms: if you want to come out with a little life in your hands, you have to face the pain.

Yet, how much energy do we waste avoiding pain in life?

We take shortcuts.
We sidestep confrontation.
We blindly follow quick-fix schemes.
We run from suffering.

But here’s the straight truth: You can’t run from pain without running from life, because life is born through pain. (tweet that?)

When we embrace the inherent pain of the delivery room, we will give birth to a life more beautiful than we ever imagined.

(3) Life is a gift

Every time I enter a delivery room, I leave amazed. How does any child (or mother) survive the birthing process? It’s miraculous. It’s a gift.

So is life.

My wife and I approach baby naming seriously. We want our children to learn from their names, to find meaning in their names, and to strive to live up to their names.

So our newborn daughter has a name full of truth and hope: Zoë Grace.

Zoe Grace at a day and half.

Zoe Grace at a day and half.

Zoe is the greek word for life. In its common usage, it means “the state of being alive.” However, it also has a deeper meaning.

Cicero called it vita quae sola vita nominanda. Literally, life which is the only life to be named. It is life, real and genuine.

Jesus called it abundant life. “I came that they may have life (zoe) and have it abundantly.”

It is a life of significance that truly amounts to something. Zoe. Life.

Well, that kind of life is a gift. Like holding your newborn baby and turning a tear-streaked face towards heaven, when Zoe-life appears, all you can say is “Thank You.” Its Grace.

So embrace the gift by embracing the pain that precedes it. The pain means Zoe is on the way. Keep your chin down. Push from deep within. And rejoice when she appears.

What are you laboring over? Share in the comments below.


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