Many women in the Bible are celebrated for their amazing gift of life to the world — from Eve, whose name can be translated to literally mean “life-giving” or “mother to all who have life,” to the woman we now honor during the Christmas season — Mary, the courageous young mother of Jesus.
But we also encounter stories of maternal tragedy and loss in the Bible; both Rachel (Genesis 35:16-20) and the mother of Ichabod (1 Samuel 4:19-20) died after a difficult childbirth. Others lost children shortly after giving birth.
Stories of maternal and child loss in childbirth are certainly not limited to Biblical times—in fact, they are quite common for women living in poverty or in developing countries. Every 90 seconds, a woman dies from complications during pregnancy or childbirth.
On our 7th day of prayer, we celebrate the improvements we’ve seen in global maternal and child health: Since 1990, both the maternal mortality and child mortality rates have fallen by about half! (In 1990, 12.6 million children did not make it to their fifth birthday; by 2015, that number dropped to 5.9 million.) We continue to be deeply thankful for the international commitment and leadership shown toward ending preventable child and maternal deaths through the Millennium Development Goals, and now the Sustainable Development Goals.
But 5.9 million is still too many. Each and every life is precious to the Lord, and God desires that every mother, child, and baby not only survive, but thrive! We have a lot of work to do together in order to meet our goals, and we’re going to need some serious will from our national leaders, our church members, and our communities to end preventable child and maternal deaths.
Please join me in a moment of prayer for moms and their children around the globe.
Today we hold in our hearts all the mothers and children around the globe—wherever they are, we pray that they may access essential health services that allow them to protect themselves from infection and disease, nourish themselves in both body and spirit, and live life to its fullest. We rejoice for the millions of lives that have been saved because of our collective global action knowing that each life is precious to you, no matter where we were born.
We ask for your guidance for the leaders of all nations, awakening in them the desire and will to invest in the gift of health for all mothers and children. We ask for your presence with each mother and child, as you were present with Mary and countless other mothers at the time of childbirth, blessing their birth and welcoming the new child into its earthly home. Amen.
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Photo: A mother holds her newborn on a mattress on the floor at Kapaapi Health Centre III in Uganda. © 2016 World Vision/ photo by Jon Warren