"Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh, I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of His body, which is the church" Colossians 1: 24
Suffering is hard.
It is hard to endure pain, but at some point in life, we have all experienced some type of pain. It could be physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, or even watching someone whom we love to suffer. It is especially difficult to try to understand why we suffer, why our loving God allows suffering in our lives and throughout the whole world. While we may never truly understand the reasoning behind suffering as we live on earth, we do have the power to not let it go to waste.
"In bringing about the Redemption through suffering, Christ has also raised human suffering to the level of the Redemption. Thus each man, in his suffering, can also become a sharer in the redemptive suffering of Christ" (Salvifici Doloris, 19, Pope John Paul II)
Offer It Up
When we experience any form of pain, we can use that pain as a prayer, and offer it up for someone else. The pain, therefore, can become a beautiful, all-encompassing prayer, that is not wasted. It is seen as a sacrifice of our own comfort, whether voluntary or involuntary for the sake of another. We see this with Christ on the cross. He underwent some of the most excruciating pain, along with the torment and ridicule. He is both God and man, and He felt it all. He knows pain, knows that the end is unknown, knows how it feels to be out of control, feel ashamed, feel broken, and feel abandoned. He knows what you're feeling. He sees you, and He loves you. He still desires for you to come to Him, to pray, especially when it's hard. He wants you to unite your pain, your suffering, your trials with His on the cross.
Offer Up During Labor
You have been preparing for months. You have read the books, watched the videos, taken classes, have a great support team, hired a doula, have the best doctor/midwife, but you know that there will still be pain. You can't avoid it, but you don't have to run from it. You have a choice. You can fear it, or embrace it and prepare to use it as a prayer of your whole body and soul for those whom you love most, those who are lost, abandoned, homeless, imprisoned, unemployed, refugees, died, and those who are suffering themselves.
How to Offer It Up During Labor
Think of those whom you want to pray for
As you are in your last few weeks of labor, you'll want something to take your mind off of the discomforts and constant thoughts of when this child will come! Ask your friends and family how you can be praying for them during this time. Reach out by phone, do a mass email, or even post on your social media. Who knows, you may even rekindle an old friendship that has fallen away.
Write them down
There are many different ways you can keep these prayers close to you: you can write them in a journal, on cards to post them around the room you'll be laboring in, or even write them in marker on your arm once early labor begins! Having them close by you, or even read by either your husband, partner or doula during labor will help you to remember them and know that your pain is not in vain.
Have Each Contraction be for an intention
You can use either the cards around the room or someone read them to you while you go through each contraction, offering up each wave as it hits to be for someone or something specific.
Pain Doesn't Have to Be in Vain
Your pain doesn't have to be in vain, it can become a beautiful prayer. It doesn't have to be perfect, in fact, many times it never is, but the fact that we offer what we can in those moments of suffering pleases God so much and can be a powerful prayer for those of whom we are offering it for.
I do not know what will happen to me; I only know one thing for certain, that the Lord will never fall short of His promises. “Do not fear, I will make you suffer, but I will also give you the strength to suffer,” Jesus tells me continually. - Saint Pio of Pietrelcina