Birth in the Pre-Modern World

27 12 2005

On Christmas Eve, after my regular Saturday meeting with the Soumdina Po Wayi church, I was asked to give a young lady who was in labor a ride to a “medical clinic” in the nearby village.


This wasn’’t an unusual request, but after the last time I transported a woman in labor to the hospital and came thisclose to having the child being born in my truck, I made sure we didn’’t waste anytime getting on our way! Once we were quickly, but carefully, negotiating the rough path which occasionally doubles as a road, a number of thoughts crossed my mind.


The first was how I didn’’t believe that the clinic was much of a step up from the home where we picked up the woman. Sure the building was made of cement brick, had windows, real doors and a tin roof, but it couldn’’t be much more sterile. What’’s more, the ““doctor”” at the clinic was sure to have only a very limited supply of meds and knowledge should any complications arrive during the birth.


I thought, too, how there was no way I’’d consider allowing any of my children to be born under those conditions. For instance, we didn’’t even stay on the continent when Owen was born. (How unbelievably privileged we are to actually have a choice in the matter!)


But then I began to think about Joseph and Mary and what they must have been going through on the eve of Jesus’’ birth. Noting the urgency I felt to get this woman somewhere safe (and remember feeling that even more intensely when Tracey was in that situation), I tried to imagine how Joseph felt. I’’m sure that donkey — – if they even had a donkey –– couldn’’t move fast enough! And the animals in the stable… He was probably shooing them off constantly.


With sounds of the young Kabiye woman struggling with labor pains, I wondered what thoughts must have been going through young Mary’’s mind. For one, since was Jesus her first child, Mary had to have been scared and nervous. (That is what I read in the Kabiye lady’s face so I assumed it was her first child too. Turns out it was her fourth!) And she was definitely feeling some physical pain. And, to top it all off, she had do wrestle with the idea of giving birth to the Son of God!


Well, we got to the clinic without a hitch and I left the expectant family and their friends to head home. On the way back, I reflected on the two big reminders the Lord gave me through the experience.


First, our Lord and Savior’’s birth was physical. It is an integral part of the story of redemption and while I celebrate Christ’s birth this time of year, I tend to forget the ugly parts of that birth. Jesus came into the world with all the pain, blood, fluid and anxious emotions of any other human birth. He truly came in the flesh! 100%.



Second, I was floored by the tremendous risk God took in coming to this earth in the flesh. Think about it. Jesus Christ born into a world before antibiotics, incubators, oxygen masks and anti-bacterial soap (just to name a few medical advances in the past 2000 years)! Consider that he was born in one of the dirtiest places one could think of – a living place for farm animals, too!


God Almighty allowed His son to be born in even worse conditions than a village clinic in Africa. Conditions worse than those which I have deemed unacceptable for my own kids.


That is incredible! Unthinkable! Yet, absolutely true. And it was all done “at just the right time.”


No wonder the angels sang and kings bowed down. “”God is with us”” had arrived safe and sound.




One response

28 12 2005
Anthony Parker

Great thoughts and good writing, Bryan. I enjoy your blog. Say hey to everyone. (Blogger won’t let me edit a comment after I’ve posted it, and I realized my error too late. That’s why I deleted and reposted.)

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