“It will get easier.”
“You’re doing the hardest job in the world, but it’s a noble calling.”
“This is only a season.”
If you’re a mom, you’ve heard these words, and encouragements like them, over and over. Motherhood forces change, and change is painful. It requires hope that something valuable is waiting on the other side. Thankfully, God created women to be helpers. We listen to each other’s struggles, and we’re wired to offer hope to hurting hearts.
But moms tend to put their hopes in long (okay, short) naps, obedient children, clean homes, successful goals, and ever-elusive alone time. These transient hopes may encourage for a moment, but they crumble at the first sign of pressure. Motherhood is a physical, emotional, and spiritual battleground; unfortunately, it has become all too common in Christian communities to offer moms failing and finite hopes to fight their battles, instead of the steadfast hope of the gospel.
Whether you’re preaching hope to your own heart or encouraging a friend, little hopes are not enough to equip you for motherhood. Motherhood will change every aspect of your life; your hope, then, must be anchored to something steady and sure. Here are some do’s and don’ts to make sure you’re grounded in Jesus Christ.
DON’T expect to find daily strength through physical gifts: You cannot put your ultimate hope in well-rested children, exercise, healthy eating, naps (for kids or moms), or an uninterrupted night’s sleep. Ask any mom; there are too many days when some—or all—of these good physical blessings never happen.
DO put your soul at rest in God alone: Instead of hoping for circumstances to meet your physical needs, rely on the manna of God’s Word for the strength you need. Your heavenly Father knows exactly how to meet your physical needs. He equips you for life and godliness, no matter your circumstances. Even when your body is exhausted, your soul can be at rest (Ps. 62:1).
DON’T hope in blessings to fix your current problem: When good desires go unfulfilled, we often put our hope in future solutions. A mom whose child has been diagnosed with special needs may find hope in therapies and the possibility of a “normal life.” A woman struggling with infertility trusts in the possibility of adoption or God opening her womb. A mom who wants to stay home but financially needs to work may put her hope in excellent childcare or flexible work hours. A mother of sons who hoped for a daughter may hope in the possibility of daughters-in-law or granddaughters. These hopes will disappoint, because they focus on receiving blessings from God, rather than receiving God himself.
DO put your hope in God’s yes: Rather than wallowing in the disappointment of unreceived blessings, remember all the promises of God are still yes in Christ Jesus (2 Cor. 1:20). Your hope when God says no to good thing isn’t that he will bless you with other earthly blessings, but that he will bless you with more of himself. Only more of God can satisfy the deepest longings of your heart.
DON’T hope for the next season as an escape from the problems of your current stage: The hope of surviving this season and reaching the next isn’t enough. Every season of motherhood will offer new challenges. If you focus on just surviving until the next season, you will be caught in a cycle of constant disappointment. No season of motherhood will be easy enough, blessed enough, or fulfilling enough to satisfy your soul.
DO hope in God: You don’t walk through this season alone. God longs for you to come closer to him and rest in his faithfulness and kindness during seasons that feel impossible. It almost feels too simple, just drawing closer to God, but it will change your heart. Hoping in God will create both contentment and joy in your soul—no matter what challenges you face.
Band-Aids on a Bleeding Heart
So when you’re interpreting your own circumstances, or encouraging a friend at your next play date, choose gospel hope. The sanctifying pressures of motherhood will always bring moms to the end of their abilities. But Jesus will always be bigger and better than even the most challenging circumstances.
Sister, every hope outside of God is insufficient. The little hopes of this world are Band-Aids on a bleeding heart. Instead, bind up the wounds of insufficiencies, unfulfilled desires, and challenging seasons with the lasting hope of Jesus Christ. He lived and died and rose to become the cornerstone of your daily hope.