by Gloria Furman
Motherhood is a gift. Does that idea sound boring to you?
Admittedly, sometimes it does to me.
My boredom with grace is symptomatic of a heart problem. God’s good gifts are meant to lead us to cherish Christ. But my wicked heart can turn any gift into an idol to make me happy or treat it as an obstacle to my happiness. And an idol, by definition, can never satisfy.
The Bible describes motherhood as neither a diminishing of a woman’s personhood nor the sum of her personhood. Motherhood, ultimately, is about a different Person all together. Orienting my affections to appreciate God through his gift of motherhood is more easily said than done.
What’s the cure for my indifference?
In Adam all die
The Bible offers a paradigm for us to think about motherhood that is outside of our worldly idea of finding a balanced middle ground between Resentment and Idolatry.
Perhaps, like me, you need to hear regular “notes to self” from God’s word on this issue. The Holy Spirit uses God’s word to scrape the callouses off of my heart and resuscitate my affections for Christ. Here’s some reminders from a biblical theology of motherhood* that have helped me as I battle feelings of boredom with God’s grace…
In Genesis 1:28 God blessed the man and woman who he created in his image. He instructed them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it.” Subduing, ruling, multiplying—these are things that neither of them could do on their own. God designed the man and the woman to need one another and be utterly dependent on him for everything.
But they decided that they didn’t need to depend on God. Who needs God’s wisdom when you’ve got what it takes? was their rationale. Even though the just punishment for sin is death, the man and the woman disobeyed God and ate the forbidden fruit. “Yikes” is too weak of a word for this dilemma.
It’s easy for me to feel nonchalant toward this incident in the Garden. What relevance does it have for my life? The relevance, in short, is that Adam’s sin and death is connected to mine. “For as in Adam all die…” (1 Cor. 15:22a). Hold that thought—
Now what? Specifically, what is to become of motherhood? Would the human race be justly extinguished because of the man and woman’s cosmic treason against Almighty God?
Life in spite of death
From within the curse that he pronounced against the serpent we can hear God’s heartbeat of mercy.
“I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel” (Gen. 3:15).
The woman would have offspring.
The curse on the serpent is laden with God’s mercy toward his children. God promised a Savior. Satan would wound him, but the Messiah will have the decisive victory in this war.
God then told the woman that as a result of her sin she would experience pain in childbearing. But her efforts in the labors of birth and motherhood would not be in vain. Someday a Messiah would be born.
How does Adam respond to this news? Adam looked forward to the culmination of God’s promise and counted it as good as done. “The man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living” (Gen. 3:20).
The fact of life is a display of God’s grace. It is not boring to draw each breath by the mercy of a patient God who is not slow to fulfill his promise (2 Pet. 3:9).
Motherhood by faith
Like Adam and Eve, we deserve death because of our sin against God. And like Adam and Eve our hope is in the promised Messiah who would do for us what we could never do for ourselves. Jesus put himself forward as a sacrifice for our sins and he dealt the deathblow to Satan.
Jesus holds out to us the hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began (Titus 1:2). When we trust in Christ he joins us to himself and he gives us this eternal life. Being born again is not blasé. “For as in Adam all die so also in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Cor. 15:22).
In eternity we will ever be acutely aware of how thrilling it is to be a recipient of God’s grace because it gives us God.
But, alas, how quickly one can forget Jesus. Too often we are happily circumscribed in our myopic kingdoms where we melt down signposts that point us to Jesus and fashion them into idols to worship.
Even so, we do not lose heart. The Author of life reassures us that he is greater than our weaknesses. “If we are faithless, he remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself” (2 Tim. 2:13). Christ the Anchor faithfully binds us to himself and restrains us from finally giving ourselves over to our vanities.
Motherhood as evidence of mercy
Praise God for the mercy he has on us when we turn the gift of motherhood into a vehicle for our self-fulfillment or treat it as an obstacle to our joy.
Motherhood, like every other gift, is meant to lead us to treasure Jesus. As life marches on we see a riveting reminder of our Father’s faithfulness to fulfill his promise to give his Son an inheritance of nations to the praise of his glory.
Dearest Self, are you still bored with the idea of motherhood?
The next time something mundane happens—the laundry fills up (again) or you discover what’s left of (another) tissue box your toddler has curiously disemboweled—let your groaning turn into hallelujahs.
“Praise the Lord, all nations! Extol him, all peoples. For great is his steadfast love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord!” (Ps. 117).
* For more on a biblical theology of motherhood, a must-read is Professor Jim Hamilton’s article in the Journal of Discipleship and Family Ministry.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Gloria (@gloriafurman) is mostly from Texas. In 2008 she moved to the Middle East with her husband Dave to plant Redeemer Church of Dubai. They have three fun kiddos and Gloria enjoys serving the ladies in her community as a doula. Gloria is the author of Glimpses of Grace: Treasuring the Gospel in Your Home (Crossway 2013).