When Motherhood is Hard

A.K.A., The Legacy of Serving God through the Hard Stuff

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The psalmist David, who penned the words above, was God’s anointed king of Israel and one of the most famous characters in the Bible. The highs and lows of his exploits are recorded in great detail in the Old Testament, from the historical books to the famous book of Psalms, where he transparently cries out to God in both good times and bad.

Have you ever wondered about David’s mother? She faced much turmoil within her family, not unlike many of us mamas face today:

  • Her children couldn’t get along (see Psalm 69:8).
  • She feared for the life of her youngest son, who lived under constant threat of assassination by King Saul (e.g., 1 Samuel 19:10). While most of our kids aren’t under threat of assassination, we have a spiritual enemy who desires to kill, steal, and destroy…and will stop at nothing to do so (John 10:10).
  • Once David was established as king, her grandchildren were constantly at war with their father and one another (e.g., 2 Samuel 15).
  • She faced moments of uncertainty, fear, and despair (see 1 Samuel 22:3-4).
  • Her son David sinned greatly by committing adultery with Bathsheba and murdering her husband Uriah. This must have broken her heart.

But, in the midst of it all, she continued to serve God, and this influenced David to call upon the Lord when he was in trouble, remembering how his mother had served Him (Psalm 86:15-16).

Scripture gives us general principles, not promises, about the correlation between our own hearts and the spiritual future of our children. We are to live transparent lives before them as Christ-followers and disciplers, training them in the ways of the Lord, but this isn’t a guarantee because ultimately our kids make their own choices. Some kids from great homes go haywire. Some kids from terrible family situations end up with incredible testimonies that encourage others. Some kids from middle-of-the-road families abandon their faith. We can’t predict the future.

What we CAN know is that God’s character is timeless and unchangeable. And, we should never underestimate the power of a mother who, just like David’s mother, is committed to serving God in the midst of difficult circumstances.

So don’t give up hope. Stay the course. Rest in the character of God, in his compassion, grace, patience, love, faithfulness, mercy, strength, help, and comfort. Know that he loves us even when we fail. Know that he loves our kids even more than we do, especially when they fail. Trust him with their future and watch to see what he will do in their lives.

And, a special note to those for whom Mother’s Day is more about grieving than celebrating. Maybe you have a difficult relationship with your mom. Maybe you’ve lost a child. Maybe you want children but don’t have them. Maybe it’s hard for a myriad of other reasons. Words are inadequate comfort…but know that these too are difficult situations that tempt us with fear and bitterness in the same way David’s mother was tempted to despair. Be comforted in the unchanging character of God, knowing that He is a mother to the motherless, a father to the fatherless, and that your worth is defined not by the number of children you have but by your status as a daughter of the Sovereign King of the Universe. This isn’t intended to assuage your pain (it never really goes away), but to remind you of Whose you are and the choice you still have to love and serve God. May He richly bless you.

But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God,
    slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.
Turn to me and have mercy on me;
    show your strength in behalf of your servant;
save me, because I serve you
    just as my mother did.

(Psalm 86:15-16, NIV)

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