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The Latin word for labor, laborem, means “hardship, distress, or fatigue”. It is no wonder why this word is used to describe hard, physical work as well as the period just before a woman gives birth. What seems to be left out of the above definition is the aspect of pain associated with labor. When Jacob labored with the Angel of the Lord until daybreak, it was not without pain. When Hagar labored with a hateful mistress, it was not without pain. When Paul labored with the thorn in his side, it was not without pain.

For the past 6 weeks or so, God has been leading me in a study of pain, more specifically the benefits of pain. Through an analysis of the biblical stories mentioned above and even through close observation and intimate conversation with friends and family members struggling with chronic pain, I’ve been able to conclude that pain is crucial for one’s survival and, through pain, we come to know God more deeply and more purely. I have even come to conclude that our physical pain is often times a symptom of a much more serious issue of the soul. Discomfort is often our cue that something is wrong and needs to be addressed. Pain is a call to reach for the root of our issues.

Most recently, I have come to understand that pain often precludes new beginnings. There can be nothing new without the pain of an ending or the pain of a new beginning. One afternoon a few weeks ago, I was driving home from work and God gave me an image of a seed being planted in the ground. I watched as the seed burst open, allowing the roots to grow and stretch outward. The seed continued to grow and develop below the surface. But, He showed me that if the seed has any hope of reproducing, of living the life it was destined to live, at some point, it must break through the ground. It must break out of that which it has grown accustomed. It must endure the labor of the next level, regardless of how uncomfortable it may be, or it will die in the ground without anyone ever knowing the potential it held.

Consider the birth of a child. When a child is conceived, there is a myriad of changes it endures, many of which happen without the knowledge of anyone else. Within the womb, the embryo changes and develops, but if that baby is going to live, it must exit the woman’s body and enter the next phase of life, the life it was predestined to live. Although the pain of labor is inevitable, the woman must endure it in order to behold what she knows has been inside of her the entire time. She must endure the pain to get the promise waiting for her after the labor.

All of us have a seed planted inside of us. There is ministry growing and developing within us. There is life deep down on the inside of hearts. God has been preparing something inside of us that no one else knows about. Up until now, it has been a secret thing. The time is coming for whatever that vision is to break out and break through, but some of us are afraid of the pain. We are afraid of the labor. We are afraid of the struggle. We are afraid of the relationships that will have to die for our dreams to live. We are afraid of the flesh we will have to crucify for our destinies to manifest. We mourn the lives that we will have to lie down. Without pain, nothing new can live. If we will not embrace the hardship, the distress, the fatigue, the pain, then what has been planted inside of us will die without anyone ever knowing it was there. There must be a breaking out and breaking through if what is inside you is going to live.

The labor of the next level can seem frightening. The pain may seem unbearable, but what comes after the labor, after the pain, after the breaking and the tearing, cannot be compared to the joy you will experience once you give birth to destiny within you. I know you feel it. Growing and developing. That dream, that business, that book, that vision, that program. The time is near to give birth. Don’t run from the pain. Pain is necessary. Pain is powerful. Pain reminds you who God is in your life. Don’t run from the discomfort of this new beginning. Embrace it, breathe, push, deliver.