Breakthroughs in our lives usually come at a cost. Almost always, they entail a prolonged process of toil and prayer. This Teaching Letter, Birth of a Breakthrough, is about that process—and the encouragement and grit we need to keep at it and refuse to give up until our breakthrough happens.
On rare occasions, a breakthrough will happen quickly—almost miraculously. In nature, however, the birth experience is called labor for good reason: it can be long, arduous, and painful—very similar to what the Bible calls travail.
No One Ever Said It Would Be Easy
The thoughts presented in this Teaching Letter by Derek Prince came to me unexpectedly one weekend, while I was relaxing at home enjoying a Sabbath rest. That particular weekend I found myself thinking about this old-fashioned word from the King James Version of the Bible—travail.
In today’s world, modern translations of the Bible use different expressions for the word travail, such as birth pangs or labor pains. Coming from an earlier generation, I understand most of the old-fashioned phrases. But many people today might not even know what the word travail means! Whichever word or phrase you want to use—travail, labor pains, or birth pangs—it all amounts to the same concept. Each word represents the very difficult process required to bring forth new birth.
While the word travail is virtually obsolete, the process of travail is a profound spiritual principle. It is a concept that we in the church today urgently need to understand.
An Appointed Time
Is there a breakthrough waiting to happen for you? An event in your life or in your family or church that has not yet come to pass? Do you have a sense of an inward battle for that breakthrough—one which needs to come forth and is struggling to be born?
Perhaps the Holy Spirit is drawing you into an appointed time of travail. Once understood, this spiritual truth will change the way you respond to events in your own life, as well as in the world around you. Our aim in this letter is to encourage you to never give up hope until your breakthrough comes.
Why? Because it will be worth it.
The Time of Birth
In both the Old and New Testament, we often find birth-related metaphors to help us understand important scriptural truths. For example, in a prophetic passage in Isaiah 66, we are given a principle that applies in all of God’s dealings with all of His people—Jews and Christians alike.
“‘Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Shall the earth [or the land] be made to give birth in one day? Or shall a nation be born at once? For as soon as Zion was in labor [travailed], she gave birth to her children. Shall I bring to the time of birth, and not cause delivery?’ says the LORD. ‘Shall I who cause delivery shut up the womb?’ says your God.” (verses 8, 9)
The principle revealed in these verses is quite simply this: Whatever birth or breakthrough Zion experiences will not take place until she travails.
A Necessary Procedure
At first glance, the concept of Zion giving birth might seem irrelevant to the mind of the modern Christian. Yet, as I pointed out, the truth of travail applies in all of God’s dealings with all of His people.
Please let me share something I have noticed in this regard: Many of God’s people long for results and progress in their lives. But they are not prepared to go through the only process that will bring those results—the very breakthrough they seek.
In the natural physical process, no woman simply decides that she wants a baby. None of us are so naïve as to suppose that simply by deciding you want a baby, you will produce one! There is a process which must take place in order to have a baby. At the climax of that process is travail, birth pangs, and labor pains. Please notice again what God says in verse 8, quoted earlier, about Zion:
“For as soon as Zion was in labor [travailed], she gave birth to her children.”
I believe this same procedure applies to every significant outcome—every “birth”—which God brings forth among His people.
God is a Creator, not a manufacturer. Everything God creates has life in it—and He has appointed a specific method by which a living entity reproduces its own life. This precept is entirely true in both the natural and spiritual realm. I believe the principle holds true for Israel, for the Church, and for each of us individually. The procedure for all of God’s people in bringing forth life and progress is this: unless we travail, we will not give birth. There is no other way.
The Desired Outcome
Travail leads to new birth. But that is just the beginning. In the subsequent verses of the prophecy in Isaiah 66, verses 10-11, the Lord makes the point that birth should lead to joy and fruitfulness.
“Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad with her, all you who love her; rejoice for joy with her, all you who mourn for her; [Please notice the emphasis in that verse on the expression of joy.] that you may feed and be satisfied with the consolation of her bosom, that you may drink deeply and be delighted with the abundance of her glory.”
In this passage, God presents Jerusalem as a joyful mother who has given birth and is now nursing her children. All who love this joyful mother are told to “rejoice with her and be glad with her.” The emphasis here is on the tremendous joy that comes through a birth! But the Lord is not speaking here of only one birth. Verse 8 says, “She gave birth to her children.” God wants many children. He wants fruitfulness.
A Conspicuous Blessing
In Deuteronomy 28, there is a very important list of blessings and curses: fourteen verses of blessing and fifty-four verses of curses. One of the most conspicuous features of this list is that fruitfulness is a blessing and barrenness is a curse. The ability to reproduce is one of the most prominent blessings listed. By contrast, there is no curse more striking than the inability to reproduce.
God does not want Zion to bring forth only one child. More precisely, He says in verse 9 of our initial text: “Shall I bring to the time of birth and not cause delivery?” And “Shall I who cause delivery shut up the womb?” In other words, the Lord wants more children to follow.
In this letter, we have been introduced to a profound spiritual principle: there can be no birth without travail. This truth applies to both the natural and the spiritual realms of life. Whatever purpose the Lord has for the Body of Christ and for each of us as individuals, it cannot come forth without travail. There is no other way.
What about you? Are you willing to go through the only process—the process of travail—that will bring you the breakthrough you long for? As I said earlier, never give up hope until your breakthrough comes through. For all you know, you may be right on the verge of experiencing your very own Birth of a Breakthrough.
Let’s pray for that together right now:
Dear Lord, You alone know the breakthrough I’ve been hoping for as I have read this Teaching Letter. In response to the truth of Your word, I place that situation fully and completely in Your hands. As an act of faith, I thank You in advance for Your perfect answer, provision, and plan. Thank You for my breakthrough. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.
Please see the book, Birth of a Breakthrough by Derek Prince for a more comprehensive study.
This Teaching Letter is available to download, print and share for personal or church use.