By Lori Witham
At Easter, I was sitting in my California church listening to Pastor Rick read Acts 2:24. I read along in my NASB, “But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the bagony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power.” My eyes fixed on “agony of death” and I thought of all that we think of when we think of death – pain, sorrow, sadness, finality. But then I noticed the small superscripted (b) in front of the word agony. I looked down to read the footnote. It said, “b Literally birth pains.” Hm! Why the agony of birth pains are on the other end of the scale in meaning compared to the agony in death – pain, yes, but also joy instead of sorrow, expectation and happiness instead of sadness, new beginnings instead of finality! Instead of the “agony of death” with its finality, it would be speaking of the “agonizing birth pains of death,” which would then include an exciting future of new life!
So then my mind continued with what it would mean if death was actually a new birth because of Christ’s resurrection. Christ’s resurrection was THE new birth of Life and Salvation for us all. But then the people of God experienced a new birth afterwards with the beginning of the Church, Christ’s body here on earth. And I wondered if the struggles we encounter as Christians are the birth pains to a life in heaven with our Father.
But then I thought of the struggles the Mbore translators went through – the “birth pains” as it were – as they were “birthing” God’s Word in the Mborena Kam language. They experienced sickness, death, and struggles but they didn’t give up because they knew what they were “birthing.” They knew the joy that was ahead.
I thought then of the stories I heard this month of how when the first few advanced copies of the recently printed books arrived in Madang a few weeks ago, I was told of the extreme joy of the few translators who were in town and were the first to open and look at the Bible! A baby has been born, after experiencing the birth pains, and now there is the joy, expectation, and happiness, with an exciting future! I can’t wait to see how God uses His Word among the Mbore!
Lori serves in the Publications department.