Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it.
– Jesus, Luke 17:33
The second Station of the Cross is when Jesus is forced to carry the very thing that would be used to kill him. And he did it without a fight or being disgruntled. There are certain aspects of Jesus’ Passion that I think are more easily understood or felt by women. This is one of them.
Men are predominantly raised with the understanding that pain is weakness and should be either avoided or victoriously overcome. Women are raised from a very young age with the knowledge that they can form and carry a new life within themselves, but only with immanent and incredible amounts of pains, self-sacrifices, changes, and inconveniences inflicted upon their body. And yet they (many) still desire this new life to be formed and birthed! Some, even multiple times! Pain has an entirely different significance to women than it does to most men. Pain equalling Life is nowhere nearly as hard for a woman to intrinsically understand as it is for a man.
I see the inconveniences that Shawna faces, only being 15 weeks pregnant (surprise!), and I feel my manly tendencies to want to fix them, to make them go away. But “fixing” is not what Shawna needs or wants. She needs and wants someone to be with her in and through it. Her heart feels an unspeakable joy and hope underlying the sickness, tiredness, and changes.
I can’t help but think that Life, unspeakable joy, and hope, were going through Jesus’ mind as he took on the burden of carrying the thing that would kill him. It didn’t numb him, but it moved him. Love must have been on his mind. The evidence of this is marked out clearly throughout all the Stations and Scriptures for anyone who has eyes to see.
Jesus urges all of us to look at all the pain in our lives in this new Light:
Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn … You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. 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. So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.
– John 16.20-22
So, what pains me? What pains you? What are our burdens? What are our inconveniences and sacrifices? Faith in Christ tells us that on the other side of them there will be new Life, new Health, new Wholeness, new Completeness. Can we see with these eyes? Can we endure our pains and burdens with the gratitude of an expecting woman, knowing that in the end we will be closer to Christ, who is Life?
Christ Jesus, grant me eyes to see beyond the burdens laid on me; To see all pain as birthing pain, leading to life and life more abundantly.