When you are pregnant and carrying a baby to full-term, the final month of pregnancy feels like it’s 600 days long. You are so full of baby that you’re using the restroom every 25 minutes. You’re so full of baby that you can’t even take in a full breath. You are so full of baby that you struggle to get out of bed. You know that you could not possibly stretch any farther or get any bigger—and then someone reminds you that you have four weeks to go.

But as the midwives and obstetricians like to say, no one stay pregnant forever. When the fullness of time comes, the baby is born, the child is revealed, and everyone is free.

heartache and hope

I can’t imagine what it was like being fully pregnant and making the trip from Nazareth to Bethlehem. Walking doesn’t sound great, but honestly a donkey ride sounds worse. Maybe to Mary that trip felt like it was 600 days long . . .

“But when the fulness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman . . .” Galatians 4:4.

Not just the time of hormones and pelvic positioning, but the time of God’s wisdom and prophecy. This is cosmic, prophetic time. The “Ancient Son, long foretold,” came in the fullness of time.

We celebrate that birth in this Christmas season, of course. Christ is born, Hallelujah! But it is not all merry and bright. You may be in a season of difficulty: business floundering, health declining, family fighting; facing Christmas for the first time without the loved ones who died this year; relationships pained, finances strained, hope drained. Merry Christmas?

We live caught between the two comings of Christ. And we have much to celebrate, but much also to grieve. In this caught-place we live with light and lamentation, with heartache and hope. And sometimes even December feels 600 days long.

Romans 8 describes it well: free in the Spirit, yet beset with suffering. Focus on verses 18-23 and a picture begins to form: suffering, eager longing, freedom, groaning, labor pains, the revealing of the children, adoption.

Cosmic Deliverance

Another cosmic birth is coming, when creation will be born into freedom and the children of God will be born into glory. When illness befalls us, or a natural disaster visits us, or the market crashes we understand ourselves as small, bound up, fragile; we understand the world as dark, and we groan.

But after the labor pains the delivery always brings a discovery—finally to see the baby who was growing in darkness! Seeing my newborn babies for the first time was one of the greatest joys of my life. It was surreal in the best way to see their faces for the first time, receiving them in my arms, pulling them close, weeping for joy.

The coming cosmic deliverance will likewise bring a discovery, a revealing. In the fullness of time the pain of the struggle will end in deliverance and the children of God will be revealed. And like a mother flooded with joy, God will pick us up, pull us into Himself: heart to beating heart, face to face.

What does it mean that the children of God will be revealed? Does it mean that we are not yet children of God, or that we cannot know if we are or not until the second coming? There’s more clarity in 1 John 3:2. “Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is.”

We are God’s children now, but what we will be has not yet been revealed.

This life is rich and precious, but this is not the best that there will be. This is not the best of us, this is not the glory that we were made for. This is not our full height, nor the fullness of our freedom.

between two comings

The rest of the chapter of Romans 8 tells us that we have true life because the Spirit of God dwells in us. That life provides strength in difficult times, it provides the under current of joy in seasons of grief, it is the downpayment of the glory to come (Ephesians 1:13-14). Because in this meantime, caught between the two comings of Christ, we suffer, our bodies deteriorate, there is pain and loss and struggle. We wait in the womb-darkness of the world. “We wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies.” (Romans 8:23) We wait for this final birth.

Hang on to hope, dear friends. The sufferings of this present time are not even worth comparing to the glory about to be revealed to us. In the fullness of time, God will send His Son again, that creation might be born into freedom, and the children of God born into glory. His second coming is as certain as His first. Jesus is coming again. The final days may seem to stretch on and on, a month may feel like 600 days, but the fullness of time will come. No one stays pregnant forever.

Kessia Reyne Bennet pastors at the College View Seventh-day Adventist Church in Lincoln, Nebraska.