Summary: The lesson deals with the age-old topic of how to deal with pain, sorrow, and grief. It talks about the need to understand that God is in control, and that sometimes there are blessings contained in those heartaches we experience.

Opening scripture: Isaiah 55:6-11

I can remember very well the days that all of my children were born. They were special days, obviously. But the days my last three were born were had a little extra kick because I was able to be in the delivery room, to be there when those 3 took their first gulps of air. Now, even though I had gone to the Lamaze classes, I wasn’t fully prepared for what would happen. Actually, I found out that they lie in the Lamaze classes! I got through each one okay, though, except for the slight heart attack I had when the doctor almost dropped my youngest! And in the process of watching those deliveries I also learned some valuable lessons.

I learned to have a healthy respect for the professionals who work in maternity wards. They know what they're doing, and they do it well. They also help dads who forget their duties.

I also found out why it's called "labor". It's work. Angie went through a great deal of pain as the contractions came closer and closer, and then when pushing began she really worked hard. She did have epidurals for each one, but by the time she was ready for birth they had pretty much worn off.

And, I found out a little about love. Real love.

Carol Burnett once said giving birth was like taking your lower lip and trying to stretch it over your head. It seems to me that that would be easy compared to the actual process. Labor comes in all shapes and sizes, and in all time frames. One woman I talked with said that her contractions came less than a minute apart the ENTIRE labor! But regardless of the length of labor they all have one thing in common: Pain. Big pain. Really intense pain. Pain that has been described by some as "death-like". It takes a great deal of courage to face this pain, but thousands of women do it every day.

Facing this pain takes a great deal of love, too. It takes love on the part of the mother, realizing she's going to have to go through such tremendous agony. And it takes love on the father's part to stand by and watch his wife go through it. Thousands of men, who love their wives intensely, spend that time coaching and fetching ice chips and massaging and waiting and watching.

And, of course, child birth isn't the kind of job you can just abandon at any point. But in the delivery room you never hear anyone scream "Why me, Lord?" They know the answer already. It's necessary pain. But how many times do you hear someone use that phrase over other pains?

Get stopped for speeding while you're trying to make an important appointment? "Why me, Lord!"

Stub your toe going through the living room late one night? "Why me, Lord!"

Lose a job? Get cancer? Have a heart attack? A loved one dies? "Why me, Lord! Why did you do this to me?"

A long time ago, back in early Biblical days, we got hooked on the theory that God punishes us when we're bad and rewards us when we're good. That sounds pretty good, until you consider that it's not exactly how God operates. Lots of folks have tried lots of arguments to prove it, but those arguments just don't work. Still, we seem to need a reason for our suffering, for our problems. God is convenient, so He gets the blame a lot. And why?

One: The need for punishment. We think God is reaching down and slapping us for being bad or for not being faithful enough. If we could just cross enough t's and dot all the i's things would work out alright. If we could just get our act together the good times would return and life would be a bed of roses.

Two: Because God is seen as arbitrary. There are some who believe that God dispenses good and bad on people with no apparent purpose or design. "I think I'll take this person's job away," God tells an angel. "And maybe I'll give this one a heart attack that'll disable him for the rest of his life." There's a giant dartboard up in heaven and God puts His hand over His eyes and throws a dart to determine fate.

Three: Because it seems that God doesn’t really care. He lets these things happen because it doesn't matter to Him if we suffer. "God must be a terrible being if He let something like the Holocaust happen," is one usual line of reasoning. We can think of so much to blame God for, to curse Him for. Almost everyone, at some time or another, has looked skyward and uttered a frustrated "Why" at the Creator.

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