An Encouragement for Mothers
Composing this Message to Myself
Most of what is written here was written while I was experiencing the second of two, what I would call (because I don’t know how else to convey or describe what it was), breakdowns. Like mental breakdowns. I was not functioning for two weeks from extreme anxiety, fear, depression, and what I now recognize as spiritual warfare. In the brief moments of lucidness and strength to get out of bed, I would get on my computer and type.
It’s hard for me to share about these experiences because it feels risky. I feel that I am at risk of being misunderstood. I feel disqualified to open up God’s Word to you. But I believe it is important for me to share, first, for those who fear that their particular weakness, struggle or temptation is unique to them and that no one would understand and for those that feel so overcome with shame that they cannot even step into the light to ask for help.
Your weakness is not unique to you. That is a lie from the enemy.
I also share this piece of my story to emphasize that everything I am sharing with you from the Word is not just words that sound nice. These are the truths that were my only hope and light in the heaviest darkness I have ever known. They were what I clung to moment by moment, knowing that I had to believe that in this incredible death-like weakness, God was filling me up and working in me a strength alien to my natural self but more powerful than I could then see.
I was reading the book “Gentle and Lowly” while I was going through the most intense part of this season. It radically shifted my view of Jesus and his perspective of me in my weakness. I want to share with you one section:
“When you come to Christ for mercy and love and help in your anguish and perplexity and sinfulness, you are going with the flow of his own deepest wishes, not against them. We tend to think that when we approach Jesus for help in our need and mercy amid our sins, we somehow detract from him, lessen him, impoverish him. Goodwin argues otherwise. Jesus surprises us in exercising acts of grace, and from his continual doing good unto and for his members…from his filling them with all mercy, grace, comfort, felicity, himself becoming yet more full, by filling them. As truly God, Christ cannot become any more full; he shares in his Father’s immortal, eternal, unchangeable fullness. Yet as truly man, Christ’s heart is not drained by our coming to him; his heart is filled up all the more by our coming to him. To put it the other way around: when we hold back, lurking in the shadows, fearful and failing, we miss out not only on our own increased comfort but on Christ’s increased comfort. He lives for this. This is what he loves to do. His joy and ours rise and fall together.”
The scripture passage that I was reflecting on during this desperate season was 2 Corinthians 9:6-15. The heading for this passage is “The Cheerful Giver.” Many of us are familiar with the oft quoted, “God loves a cheerful giver” and it can be loaded with shame for us as we consider how frequently we give of ourselves reluctantly or under compulsion, not freely or cheerfully. But what is striking about this passage, if you look at it in its entirety, is that it is primarily concerned with what God gives to us, not what we give to Him. And the chapter ends with an exclamation, “Thanks be to God for HIS inexpressible gift!” God, himself, is the Cheerful Giver. And this is His promise to his children who want to please him, but are so often tired, weak, wounded, and sin-entangled: “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.” And as Gentle and Lowly so beautifully describes, He does not give us his grace reluctantly, or under compulsion – No, “He lives for this. This is what he loves to do.”
Mothers as Ministers in Weakness
Not only does he love to give grace but the amount of grace that he bestows is not just enough to get by, it is all sufficient and results in us abounding in good works. And I cannot think of a vocation that more accurately fits the definition of good work than motherhood. The book of 2 Corinthians is an incredible book for all of those in the work of ministry – including Mothers. 2 Corinthians frequently addresses “ministers” of the Gospel and “ambassadors” of Christ. Mamas, is that not what you are? Are you not daily ministering the Gospel to your babies? Are you not daily representing God and his Kingdom to your little pagans? Mamas – you are ministers of the Gospel every single day. You are ambassadors of Christ the King and his Kingdom. Motherhood is one of the greatest good works because you are literally, every moment of every day, making disciples.
What we also see in 2 Corinthians, is that as it talks to those who are engaged in the work of ministry it is simultaneously addressing and illustrating the ministers’ weakness, poverty, insufficiency, and brokenness. Mamas – are you not often weak? I know we are likely all familiar with the famous passage of Paul and his thorn where he declares that “when he is weak, then he is strong.” But I would argue that this is actually the entire theme of 2 Corinthians, from beginning to end. And I obviously can’t cover it completely here, so this is a teaser in hopes that you will read it in light of whatever ministry role you fill, including motherhood. Here are a few of my favorite sections. As you read them notice the four components that are evident in each:
We are dead. We are weak. We are poor. We are broken.
The All-Sufficient God makes alive. He strengthens. He provides richly.
From HIS fullness we can do good work.
It all ends in Thanksgiving to God.
2 Corinthians 1:9
…We felt that we had received the sentence of death.
But that was to make us rely on God who raises the dead.
2 Corinthians 3:5,6
…Our sufficiency is from God, who has made us sufficient
to be ministers of a new covenant…
2 Corinthians 4:7
But we have this treasure in jars of clay,
to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.
2 Corinthians 8:2
In a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme
poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity.
2 Corinthians 9:8
God is able to make all grace abound to you,
so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times,
you may abound in every good work.
2 Corinthians 12:9
My grace is sufficient for you,
for my power is made perfect in weakness.
2 Corinthians 12:10
For when I am weak, then I am strong.
More often than not our weakness means suffering. And I am currently learning the hard lesson of how necessary suffering is. It is not always sufficient to “know your Bible” or to “believe what is true.” The reality is that we all can make mental assent to anything while at the same time walking around still in bondage to chains we do not even know bind us. We have layer upon invisible layer of lies smothering our hearts. These lies and bondage of all kinds can exist right alongside right theology. Because we can say something is true but only suffering and weakness can peal back the layers of lies or bondage, exposing them, opening them up so that Christ can enter in there and apply his life-giving balm. Just as pain coursing through our nerves alerts us to an injury, many times it is only our weakness that alerts us to the ball and chain we’ve been dragging around for so long. Surely we are saved and set free in the moment we come to Christ in faith. But we are also being saved and being set free. Surely God’s Word is powerful and true and sufficient but it is often most effectively applied to our hearts by the Spirit in times of weakness and suffering. Our weaknesses and sufferings are the areas of our lives where God wants to give us more of himself. They are the areas where we have unknowingly held him at arms length but where he so deeply yearns to enter in and make his home with us.
In summary, You, mothers, are ambassadors. And you will experience weakness. But that weakness is your strength because it is in that very place of pain that the Cheerful Giver will give Himself to you. And He will fill you with grace over and over again. When we are weak - we get Him. When we come to the end of ourselves, we meet the All Sufficient One.
…And he never wearies of giving of himself. He never has compassion fatigue. He never despises our neediness because he loves to show off the sufficiency of his grace. He is THE Cheerful giver. He will make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in the good work of motherhood and every good work. Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!
In His Grace and Light,
Jessica is wife of Chad, mother of three littles, who loves to be outdoors with her family in the beautiful PNW. We are grateful for her sharing her story in such a transparent and vulnerable way to hopefully bring help for others who are in a season of struggle.