Gratitude and Childbirth

“At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Ps. 16: 11)

Growing Dominion, Part 19

In our last installment, we noted that the last one hundred years has brought to us some astonishing blessings in the realm of health. We live much longer on average-an average of about thirty years longer. In response, it may be pointed out that the average life expectancy in the United States was at that level (47 years then, compared to 77 years now) because of infant mortality. This is quite right, the statistics are skewed by how many children died back then-but when was the last time we gave thanks for that?

Consider that in 1900, the United States was a developed nation, and yet childbirth was still a risky proposition. Since the Fall, because of sin, giving birth cannot simply be considered a “natural” process unaffected by sin. God placed it under a curse (Gen. 3:16) and, as a result, for millennia, just as men have gone to war, so women have given birth. In both settings, the risks were high. The ancient prophecies of beating the swords into plowshares, men studying war no more, the elimination of thistles and weeds, and the decrease of infant mortality rates, are all part of God’s kindness to our race. And in numerous ways, we are beginning to see the beginning of those fulfillments.

But we still have more to be grateful for than just the improvements surrounding child birth. Infant mortality does not account for all of the improvement we have enjoyed. In 1950, a 65-year-old could expect to live for another 14 years, on average. In 2001, a 65-year-old could expect to live for 18 years.

So how should we respond to all this? What does it have to do with health care choices? The basic issue is this: we can certainly do better than we have. The fact we are seeing the beginning of God’s blessing does not mean that we have in any way arrived. There is nothing wrong with seeking out better ways than we have discovered thus far for the treatment of disease and the promotion of health. But here is the spiritual point: all of this desire for continued improvement must be driven and motivated by faith and deep gratitude, and not by bitterness, discontent, or a grumbling spirit.

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