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Have you ever spent weeks, maybe even months, planning for something, only to have it fall flat? Something unexpected cuts into your perfectly laid plans, revealing just how little control you had over it all. You were left helpless and powerless.

That happened to me during a recent holiday. We rented a cabin in the mountains for our family to gather and celebrate Thanksgiving. It was a beautiful stacked log cabin with a stone fireplace and big front porch with a clear view of mountains. The weather was cold and crisp, but sunny and clear. Family drove in from hours away to celebrate with us.

In the weeks before the trip, I planned menus, carefully considering everyone’s unique dietary needs and preferences. I thought through places to go and things to do in which everyone, no matter their age or ability, could participate. There were hikes I wanted to take, restaurants I wanted to try, and gift shops I wanted to explore. Above all, I was excited to spend time with family I don’t often get to see.

Guess what happened? One person after another got sick, including me. I spent the final days of our trip in bed. And I completely missed one of the activities I had planned for us all to do. The holiday that I worked so hard to plan and prepare for will likely go down in the family history books as “Remember that Thanksgiving when we all got so sick?” rather than the trip I planned it to be.

A Mother’s Need for Christ

It often takes an interruption like that for me to remember that I am not in control, that I don’t have it all together, that I am dependent on Another. This is a truth I’ve also had to face countless times in motherhood. In fact, if there’s one thing motherhood has taught me, it’s that I can’t do it on my own. I need help from outside myself.

Motherhood reveals our need for a Savior. No matter the season we are in—early motherhood, childhood years, adolescent years, or beyond—we need Jesus. We need Him to be our strength and wisdom. We need Him to redeem and rescue us from ourselves. We need Him to be our constant in the ups and downs of motherhood. Indeed, the season of motherhood is often a place where the gospel becomes more beautiful to us in richer ways than ever before.

Just what is the gospel? It is simply the good news of who Jesus is and what He came to do. The Reformer John Calvin used the word gospel to refer to all that Jesus did: “How our Lord Jesus Christ came into the world, He went about, He died, He rose again, He ascended into heaven. That, I say, comes under the title ‘Gospel.’”1

The gospel tells us that through the gift of faith in who Jesus is and what He has done, we are saved from our sins, we are justified, and we are adopted into God’s family. As His children, we have all the rights and privileges that come with being heirs of His kingdom. This faith also unites us to Christ. Through our union, all that He has done becomes ours. His perfect life is credited to us. The death He died is ours; His resurrection from the grave is ours. Through our union, all the benefits of our salvation are found “in Christ.” This is good news for moms and news we need to hear often.

Turn to the Gospel

Theologians often talk about “preaching the gospel” to ourselves. This simply means reviewing and remembering the good news of who Jesus is and what He came to do. All throughout our day, we turn to the gospel and appropriate what Jesus did in His perfect life, sacrificial death, and triumphant resurrection. We apply those truths to our current circumstances. We find our hope in them because He is our refuge. We rest in them because Christ alone is our salvation.

When we don’t know what to do in our mothering, we must turn to Christ and who He is for us.

When we don’t know what to do in our mothering, we must turn to Christ and who He is for us. When we are overwhelmed, weak, and don’t know which way to go, we must turn to Christ. When we worry and fear for our children, we must turn to Christ. We must cry out to Him. We must remember what He has done for us in the gospel. We must rely on His strength, wisdom, power, and truth—not our own. We must find our peace and solace in Him. We must remember that He rules over the details of motherhood and that we can trust Him in it.

One of the ways we can remember the gospel is in our prayers. We can appropriate the truths of the gospel as we cry out to the Lord for help and hope. Doing so helps us set our minds on what is true. It reshapes our emotions. And it draws us closer to the Lord as we respond in joy and thanksgiving for all He has done.

A Mother’s Prayer

A mother’s prayer, shaped by the gospel, might sound like this:

Dear Father in Heaven,

I come before You today feeling helpless, insufficient, overwhelmed. Motherhood is harder than I ever thought it would be. Just when I think I know what to expect, the kids move into a new stage. I don’t know how to face these challenges. I don’t know how to be the mom they need me to be.

It’s hard to juggle all the details of parenting. I have to be on top of all their needs: physical, social, spiritual, emotional, developmental, academic, and more. And much of it I am simply not prepared for. I don’t know all the answers. Every morning when I wake up, it feels like final exam week and I’m not ready. What if I fail? What if I let my kids down?

Forgive me for putting confidence in my flesh. Forgive me for striving to do motherhood in my own strength. Forgive me for not turning to You for help and hope and seeking salvation outside of You. Forgive me for looking for rescue in things or circumstances. Forgive me for the ways I try to control my life rather than resting in Your sovereign control.

My flesh will fail me, but Christ never will. Instead of putting confidence in the flesh, I am to find my hope in what Christ has done. Jesus came to do what I could not do. He came to live the life I could not live. I thank You that because of Jesus, when You look at me, You don’t see my failures as a mom. You don’t see how insufficient I am. You see the sufficiency of Jesus in His perfect life lived for me and in His sacrificial death in my stead. And because He rose again in victory, I, too, have the hope of resurrection and eternity with You.

Please be my strength. Help me to look to You for help and hope. Give me grace in every moment to glorify You in the decisions I make, the way I respond to my children, and in navigating unfamiliar territory with them. In Jesus’ name, amen.

 

  1. John Calvin, Sermons on the Deity of Christ (Audubon, N.J.: Old Paths, 1997), 14. ↩︎

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