Before I had my babies, I would listen to these horrific first born birthing experiences where women were in labor for like, 3 days of excruciating pain and trauma and I would wonder, “good night, why did they ever go on to have another one?”
Then I had my first born in the midst of a lengthy, heavy back labor accompanied with a forceps delivery only to turn around and do it again less than two years later. And again. And again. And again.
I finally understood what the experienced mamma’s were talking about. They didn’t dwell on the pain because of the joy that was theirs as the end result.
The fleeting pain of contractions and trauma of birth cannot compare with all the hopes and dreams that are wrapped up in that tiny bundle of new life.
So, I reflected on this as I watched a movie recently on the life of Billy Graham and his friend and fellow evangelist, Charles Templeton.
Templeton was thought to be the rising evangelist who would surpass Graham’s ministry back in the 40’s.
There came a point in Templeton’s life that he looked at the suffering people in the world and he began to doubt his faith and wonder if maybe God was not loving or maybe he didn’t exist at all.
He came to a place that he decided he would walk away from the whole faith thing. He fell into intellectualism and rationalism that led him to make plans to attend Princeton and leave this Christian philosophy behind. (Interesting that Princeton was founded as a Christian college.)
Billy Graham on the other hand was being challenged by his friend to come with him and unlearn these archaic notions of faith that only an ignorant people would follow. Come and be enlightened with me, he pleaded.
Billy stood strong and boldly on the fact that Christ’s death and resurrection could be proven, validated and trusted and that he was banking all of his faith on that and to this day at 99 years of age, he has not moved off of that position.
Two men, two paths and two decisions.
Templeton was not wrong to ponder suffering in the world. One would have to be cold hearted to overlook the fact that pain and loss are a part of life and we must all face it at many turns and seasons, even experiencing it personally in various levels and forms.
However, he stopped examining too soon. He stopped at the contractions and never got to the birth.
As humans, we are left with this fallen state. We had paradise and traded it in for the temptation of that which we were told not to taste.
This opened a Pandora’s box of consequence upon consequence and horror upon horror as sin was ‘hell-bent’ on destroying God’s greatest creation, man.
Sickness, suffering, death, hatred, all came flooding over mankind like a tsunami threatening to wipe out all that God had intended for good.
To stop and look at the fall is wise. To linger there is dangerous. To anchor there is fatal to our faith.
God wasn’t finished at the fall because He had the plan of redemption and resurrection of a new life through the atoning work of his son, Jesus Christ.
He knew we would fall and he had a plan all along to raise us up!
A baby was born. God came to earth. A Savior was hung on a cross to die for our sins and was raised up on the third day, offering us the same resurrected life if we believe in him.
This is “the rest of the story”, as Paul Harvey used to say.
Templeton went on to write the book “Farewell to God” and then died in 2001.
Graham went on to preach the gospel with an unwavering faith upholding the power of a resurrected Christ who can change the lives of all who believe, seeing thousands upon thousands profess faith in Christ over the years.
Templeton said of Graham:
“There is no feigning in him: he believes what he believes with an invincible innocence. He is the only mass evangelist I would trust” (Anecdotal Memoir).