What we need more than anything is to marinate more deeply in the truth of God’s word, to let those unbelieving thoughts be driven out by reality. Because what God says is reality, and we cannot and should not want to opt out of it. God says, “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, and the fruit of the womb a reward.” (Psalm 127:3)
When I was a young mother with an overflowing stroller, accustomed to strangers counting my children aloud, I could not have been more aware that this particular kind of fruitfulness was not generally admired in the world. I received vast amounts of godly encouragement from my husband, from the word, and from the church — but I was also very clear on why I needed that kind of encouragement.
Believing that what God says about children is true is not the same as living like it is true. As it turns out, this tremendous blessing of children that God sent into my life was the ground on which I learned the glorious truth that baskets full of fruit are heavy. Glorious, bountiful, fruitful, faithful living does not feel easy, carefree, relaxing, simple, or streamlined. The life of faithful mothering, it turns out, must actually be full of faith.
Mothers need to believe that the work we are doing is important, that it honors God, that it matters eternally that we do it well. And we need to remember these things when we are physically exhausted, emotionally frazzled, and spiritually thin. It can be hard to believe — in the middle of a wild day of toddler life in your little home — that what you are doing is kingdom-building, dragon-slaying, gospel-proclaiming, glorious work.
The flesh wants to see the Cheerios and the sippy cups and the sticky floors, and it wants to wallow in feelings of not being seen or understood. The flesh wants to believe that what can be seen easily by tired eyes is the extent of the matter. This is all. You, the bedraggled mother of all these dirty children, are wasting your life. You settled. You have been deceived, and now you are being shown to have been a fool with no ambition.
But the flesh, like always, is not on our side. It must be overcome by faith. It must not be listened to, put in an authoritative position, or believed.
Games We Play with Kids
I am sure that mothers throughout all of history have struggled with being discouraged, but our time is actually unique in the momentum that goes against the basic, faithful fruitfulness of Christian marriage. There were other eras when fruitfulness and fertility were still admired by the world. The flesh would not have needed to stand up to so much in that context, and the devil would have found other ways to keep women off task. But in this time, in our era, we are surrounded by a world that thinks it is inventing itself.
A young Christian couple can get married today and announce, without pushback, what their goals and dreams are. Essentially, this is our board game of life, and these are the rules we are playing with.