On hard days of mothering, it’s easy to see it purely as a type of suffering, rather than a blessed privilege. And it is a type of suffering. Motherhood is tough. It requires us to give up our plans in favor of what our kids need most. It demands our preferences for theirs. It’s strenuous on our bodies as we carry babies and hoist toddlers, and it tests our hearts as we soak up tears, discipline in love, and spend ourselves for little immediate return.
Yes, motherhood is a form of suffering. But in the middle of its trials, when we’re exhausted and weary, we can quickly forget what a privilege it is––often at the same time as when it’s hardest.
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Pictures of Jesus
As I rocked our infant daughter in the quiet of her room, the day’s trials melted in light of the sweet moment. Wise words from a mentor came to mind: “Remember what a privilege it is to be the picture of Christ to her.”
What a privilege indeed.
Don’t we need to know this truth, mommas, when it seems we can’t catch a break? When our kids are demanding so much from us, and we aren’t sure we can give any more? When our patience runs low because our little one has pushed our buttons and tested our love?
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We need to know who Jesus is—what he’s already done and what he’s doing right now. Then and only then, as his Spirit works in us, will we grasp what a privilege it is to reflect him as we mother.
Consider Jesus, who sustains you.
He upholds the universe by the word of his power, and he upholds you (Hebrews 1:3). The One who breathed life into your very being sustains you as you care and provide for your child. He sustains them through you—and what a privilege it is to be a tool in his upholding hands.
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Consider Jesus, who sacrificed for you.
It’s our privilege to give ourselves up for our children. Why? Because Christ first gave himself for us (Titus 2:14). Sacrifice apart from love means nothing (1 Corinthians 13:1-3); but when we grasp the depths of God’s love for us “while we were still sinners,” we see how astounding his sacrifice is. It is undeserved, lavish love. This Jesus who offered up himself for us pours this love into our hearts (Romans 5:5), freeing and enabling us to love our kids through a lifestyle of sacrifice.
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Consider Jesus, who saves you.
No, we do not have the privilege of saving our kids—only Jesus can do that—but we do have the privilege of showing them our need to be saved by him. At soul-level, we are no different than them; we all need divine rescue from ourselves. We’re blessed each moment of each day to seek opportunities to point them to Christ, the only Savior of sinners, not with a holier-than-thou attitude, but in the gentleness of humility as saved people who know our continuous need.
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Consider Jesus, who serves you.
It’s our privilege to serve because Christ continually serves us in heaven (1 John 2:1). He is our advocate with the Father, presenting his righteousness as ours. Not only did Jesus come in human flesh to serve us on the cross, his work for us is ongoing and will never end! He continually serves us. Knowing this truth, our definition of service changes. It’s no longer limited to a few disjointed acts of goodwill, but a motivating desire. And our ability to serve changes, as the Spirit works in us that which is pleasing to him (Hebrews 13:1), all his fruit of joy, peace, and kindness.
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Consider Jesus, who shepherds you.
The Good Shepherd lays down his life for his sheep (John 10:11); his sheep know his voice, and they follow him (10:27). So we follow Jesus, and point our children to him, demonstrating his life-giving way as we lead them into truth. It’s our privilege to hold fast to the word of life (Philippians 2:16), and to let our voice be used to proclaim his Word. As Jesus comforts us with his rod and staff (Psalm 23:4), protecting us from Satan’s devices and the deceitfulness of sin, so we help our children see their sin and the only Way to be rescued from it.
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Satisfied in Him
Our highest privilege is to picture for our kids the all-satisfying joy and peace of knowing Jesus. When they see us trusting his words, believing his truth, praising his character, and enjoying his finished work on our behalf, they will take note. They will see that, although suffering comes (and is sometimes motherhood itself), the suffering Savior and risen Lord is worth following and laying down our lives for (Mark 8:34). Let’s take up our children and follow him.
Kristen Wetherell is a writer, Bible teacher, and the content manager of Unlocking the Bible. She is the author, along with Sarah Walton, of Hope When It Hurts: Biblical Reflections to Help You Grasp God’s Purpose in Your Suffering (The Good Book Company, April 2017). She blogs at her website, and you can follow her on Twitter. She and her husband, Brad, are members of The Orchard in Arlington Heights, Illinois.
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Originally published Monday, 30 July 2018.