I recently read Galatians 4:19 and was struck by the language Paul used. He wrote, “My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you.” That is only a portion of the passage and I don’t usually take verses out of context. But this one verse conjured up a wealth of images for me.
First, the pains of childbirth. Those of us who have given birth know that how incredibly painful it is. People told me I would forget the pain of childbirth as soon as I held the baby in my arms. Not so. The joy did not erase the pain, although it did make the pain worthwhile. So the pain of childbirth is worth it when you hold the child.
Paul is talking about going through the pain of childbirth again to see the disciples at Galatia formed into Christians. A parent never stops hurting for their children. Sometimes the things our children do hurt us. But more often, we hurt because we know that bad choices are going to hurt them. We can’t stop them from making the bad choices and we can’t stop the pain in our hearts. I wonder if God feels the same way toward his earthly children. Does he go through the pains of childbirth waiting for us to be formed as Christians?
Another powerful image is the last part of the verse, “until Christ is formed in you.” We are not fully born anew until we look like Jesus. Formed in his likeness. Loving and forgiving as he did. Willing to call out hypocrisy where we find it, including confronting it in our own lives. Standing with the least, the lost, the last. Learning to follow Jesus Christ 100% takes a lifetime. We face new challenges and choices daily with regard to our Christian walk.
And the final image in the verse, “my dear children.” Hear the voice of God calling you that. “You are my dear child.” Always God reminds us that we are people of worth. He has chosen us as his children and he will always love us no matter what.
My dear brothers and sisters, I will continue to pray for you until Christ is formed in you. Please pray for me that Christ may be formed in me as well.