Thursday, September 1, 2016

PSALM 116 continued...

"The cords of death encompassed me
And the terrors of Sheol (the nether world) came upon me;
I found distress and sorrow.
Then I called upon the name of the Lord:
I found distress and sorrow.
(verse 3)

What it's supposed to be like, but...

 What it actually was like for me.
Okay, you gals out there, some have said this Psalm refers to women in labor, you know those cords of labor pains that you don't get to opt out of, those of you who experienced it.  I remember my first time around thinking, no one told me it would be like this!  It was because it was such a hard and fast delivery that did not even have breaks between contractions for the most part of four hours. No I did not think I was dying, but I felt like I was in the nether world, literally no-man's-land, because no man has experienced this!  It's true though that there is more than one way to experience distress and sorrow, that's for sure.  David the Psalmist went through a few times like that.  So what do you do when you go through such times? 

"Then I called upon the name of the Lord:
'O Lord, I beseech You, save my life!'
(verse 4)

Each pregnancy was different.  My second time around we were thinking dollars and cents, of the cost of the hospitalization, you know, pinching those pennies: if I got there before midnight, we would be charged for an extra day.  So our midwife suggested that I go through my labor in her office before leaving for the hospital after midnight.  Somehow that didn't last long, and I insisted in the midst of labor pains, forget that idea, I needed to go NOW!  If you've never tried to get to the hospital while you are in the midst of hard labor, you wouldn't know what I'm talking about, but just think about someone who is demanding, beseeching as your man signs you in.  I'll give you a hint.  It's not like waiting while your man goes to the desk at a hotel to sign you in for a pleasant stay.  I may not have been saying my prayers about then, but I was calling on my husband to  hurry and take me where I needed to go.  Quickly!  It was another fairly fast but hard labor.  (And the hospital was nice and didn't charge us poor folk extra for the 11:45 pm arrival.)

By the third labor, I was prepared even though the pains came five minutes apart during evening church.  Oh goody, I thought, a regular by-the-book labor!  It just so happened that our district superintendent and his wife were visiting.  I told my husband to take them somewhere, anywhere, while I got the other two kids arranged to be taken care of before I needed to leave for the hospital.  But my husband's boss insisted that they just wanted to visit in our home, so low and behold there was my husband bringing them in the front door.  Why, oh why were we embarrassed to tell them I was in labor?  Were we nuts?  I guess so.  So by the time they wanted to pray with us before leaving, I was squeezing their hands in our little circle quite hard. They had no idea that we would hurry to the hospital as soon as they left.  Another short labor but the kind that nobody-can-tell-you-ahead-of-time-how-painful-back-labor- can-be.

What life is like.

Okay, okay, I know these verses aren't just about labor pains, but it's as close to death as a women gets sometimes, and in history, women often did not survive their deliveries.  I know that fear as we almost lost a daughter and her nearly 11 pound baby in labor and delivery.    "Death is the king of fear."

"Gracious is the Lord, and righteous;
Yes, our God is compassionate."
(verse 5)

Yep.  "...this Psalm has been used in the thanksgiving of women, after safe delivery, it has been supposed that the pain suffered in the act of parturition was equal, for the time, to the torments of the damned."  Ha!  I'm just quoting a little of Adam Clarke's words.  "But this is shockingly absurd!"  says he.  Yeah, that's a man for you.

"In these troubles and pangs."  Yep, that's what we've been talking about.  "those who fly in faith to Him for mercy."  My goodness, gracious, that sums it up: gracious, righteous and compassionate (merciful).  "He mingles mercy with His justice; He corrects with a father's hand, and loves to forgive more than to punish."  Thanks Adam Clarke for your insight, even if you are just a man and can't quite imagine what we women go through!

p.s.  I think it is amazing that God did not spare His Son.  He had him go through the whole womb thing and a difficult labor by a teenage girl without her mother, or midwife, or nurse or doctor, in a stable, of all places!  Jesus was delivered in the totally human way.  He had an umbilical cord which was cut which meant He had a belly button unlike Adam.  There is something mystical about labor and delivery.  It's not just the mother who experiences it, but the baby as well.  My second baby's heart rate was irregular towards the end of my labor causing concern.  She was born quickly before they had to take extra measures.  It turned out that her cord was so short that each labor pain that was meant to bring delivery, caused her to be cut off from her blood supply. 

As Jesus suffered on the cross, He was cut off from His Father even when He beseeched Him, "Why have you forsaken me?"  He did it so that we might forever have access to our Father who art in heaven, never cut off from our God who hears and answers our cries.

Oh, and by the way, those cords of death we were talking about...

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