Joseph, The Birth Coach

Joseph, The Birth Coach

Nov 22, 2017

by Gabriel Graffius

My wife and I are currently anticipating the birth of our first child. I’ve quickly learned that the activities and emotions surrounding childbirth are a unique time in a person’s life. A woman deals with the emotional roller coaster of attempting to conceive, endures the incredible and uncomfortable physical changes to her body, receives the congratulatory hugs and gifts at the baby shower, goes through a painful labor, and is finally overwhelmed by the joy and love she feels as she holds her newborn baby for the first time. A man has a more indirect role on the sidelines. At times I even feel that I am no more than a spectator during the pregnancy, but in the prenatal classes I was encouraged to take on the more active role of “birth coach.” In sports, the coach doesn’t just show up on game day to cheer on the team — he works diligently with the team the entire season to teach skills, strategy, encouragement, and set the game plan. Similarly, a birth coach acts as a comforter, interior decorator, furniture builder, masseuse, “ambulance” driver, breathing instructor, and even an amateur nurse. Though playing different roles, an expectant mother and father can both be active.

I am particularly empathetic and amazed by Joseph’s birth coaching at the time of Jesus’ birth.

It actually began as Joseph’s preparations for his wedding were interrupted by a pregnant bride! But Joseph did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and resolved to take Mary to be his wife (Matthew 1:24-25). He went from preparing a marriage home and career to preparing for his new family. This, too, was interrupted by Caesar’s census. As I now know multiple routes to drive to the hospital, I cannot imagine the stress of taking his pregnant wife on the long, multi-day journey to Bethlehem — and then arranging a place to stay and (presumably) a midwife upon arrival. Even after the joy and awe of Jesus’ birth, the disruptions to setting up his family’s new life continued (Matthew 2:13-23). Joseph went above and beyond his role as Mary’s birth coach!

Christmas is a time during which many celebrate Advent. In it we find the significance of Christ’s birth and the anticipation of His return. We can rejoice in action during the birth pains (Mark 13:8) of the “already, but not yet” Kingdom of Heaven. We begin with preparation, by the process of sanctification to prepare our mind, soul, and body to do the work of God’s kingdom. The preparation should then focus outward to the whole team — your family and neighbors — like

Joseph for Mary. Finally, we must seek and act on God’s will in all of our actions just as Joseph was guided from Bethlehem to Egypt (Matthew 2:13-14) before returning to Nazareth (Matthew 2:19-23) with his new family. My hope is that we will use the inspiration of Joseph to transition from mere game day fans to birth coaches for Christ’s return.

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