Generation Cedar

Tired young woman doing the laundry at home

Motherhood and Suffering…Is It a Sign?

The idea of birth control, family size and fertility is often not well-thought-out, in my opinion, among Christians. It’s one of my passions–not to make a definitive statement about what is right or wrong, but to challenge you to look at life through the lens of Scripture, not the culture.

Think of someone called to the mission field in New Guinea. It is a noble calling. People are impressed. The more physical suffering the missionary endures, the more applause he receives. (Not that that’s his goal, mind you, just a reality.)

Does he get sick from the tainted water? Does he suffer from dysentery? Does he live in poverty? Does he even have to sometimes ask people for money to survive?

And yet, his difficult conditions are never held as a measure to whether he is fulfilling God’s will. No one says, “Well, what does he expect?”

I think of Paul. Called to preach the gospel. Soon after, beaten almost to death, and then thrown into prison. How easy would it have been for him to use the “wisdom that God gave him”, and say, “Well, obviously I misunderstood God’s will for me. If he wanted me to preach the gospel, it wouldn’t be so hard!”

I submit that motherhood can be seen as a mission field. Based on the fact that God gave us a fruitful womb, and then said to be fruitful, bear children, and let our quivers be full, (and he never revoked the command), it should be concluded then, that THAT MAY INVOLVE HARDSHIP.

In most realms of ministry, hardship is an indication of being in the center of God’s will, not a sign of being wrong.

So I urge the Christian community to consider:

No matter your personal decision about children, we need to ALLOW the mother of many to be tired, stressed and emotionally drained sometimes. That’s not a sign that she is wrong!

In addition to allowing the missionary to suffer, we allow the working woman to suffer without tsking her as well. We don’t shame the overworked career woman who still has to come home and manage a second full-time job; we generally try to come up with solutions to make her life easier. (Better child care, and “family-friendly” work schedules.) No one says, “Two jobs? You made your bed…”

Motherhood is a mission field. And I promise there will be struggles! Physical ones, emotional ones, financial ones, even spiritual ones.

A hardship alone is NEVER an indication that we are being unwise or irresponsible. Let us remember that!

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” Paul Romans 8:18

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20 Responses

  1. How thought-provoking. I never considered stress and hardship a sign of being in God’s will…I actually thought it meant I was not doing a great job as a mom. My dear sweet hubby is an over the road trucker, and sometimes these kids wear me out so much. I’m alone with the children for about 3 weeks out of every month. As much as my heart desires more children, I was starting to think I might be insane for wanting it.
    Thank you, Kelly, for turning my head back where it needed to be.

  2. We don’t shame the overworked career woman who still has to come home and manage a second full-time job; we generally try to come up with solutions to make her life easier. (Better child care, and “family-friendly” work schedules.)

    Why would we shame her? Shaming doesn’t change behavior, it just condemns the person. As a Christian, I really don’t think our job is to go around shaming people who aren’t living the way we think they should.

  3. anon,

    yes…you just restated my very point. In case you missed the word “DON’T” ???

    We don’t shame her, and likewise, the tired, suffering mother of children also should not be shamed…but too often she is.

  4. Anonomolly,

    When I start saying that God loves women who don’t use birth control better than women who do, you can send me your legalism links. 😉

  5. Thought provoking post. I agree with you that hardship should not be taken as a sign that we are outside of God’s will anymore than we should assume that hardship and suffering automatically mean that we are.

  6. I needed to hear this!!!!

    No matter your personal decision about children, we need to ALLOW the mother of many to be tired, stressed and emotionally drained sometimes. That’s not a sign that she is wrong!!!

    This is such a deep thought to me. For so long I’ve been holding myself together, afraid to show the slightest crack least people think that I’m not usually enjoying where I am in life!

    Thank you so much for this post!

    terry, I was telling this idea to my dh, and he said the exact same thing!! It really isn’t a good measuring stick for anything. 🙂


  7. Kelly,
    I so NEEDED to read this today. Thank you so much1 I have really been struggling lately with the struggles of early motherhood. I have four under the age of five and feel so overwhelmed at times. Overwhelmed enough to question my convictions on birth control. I have been leaning heavily on the Lord. When I read something like what you have wrote at a time when I need it badly, I know it comes straight from Him.
    Thank you for being God’s vessel.

  8. This was really good and I REALLY needed to hear this. I’ve been really struggling lately too. I’m just so tired and overwhelmed. I don’t dare vent to anyone I know in real life, because they will all just confirm how “crazy” we are to have “all these kids” to begin with, I need to give my body a rest, etc. Ugh. Thanks again.

  9. So true! A friend and I joke that this whole motherhood, homeschooling, etc. journey wouldn’t be so hard if we didn’t CARE SO MUCH! Thanks, Kelly.

  10. Somehow along the lines we have lost the satisfaction of hard work, I speak generally of both our church and our country.

    Yet, while motherhood is the hardest job, it is the best job, with the best rewards of love and kisses. We are in our third trimester, and I love that reminder of pending blessing that comes in the form of a sore and tired body.

    And I love the theology of children, it is so sweet and thought provoking.

    Motherhood is not easy, but why would you want it to be? If it was we would miss so much!

  11. Hard work to be sure but not in the sense of it being a drudgery and I guess that is why I tend to not think of motherhood as being hard work. I have the tendency to think that if anything is boring or tedious then it is hard work which of course isn’t necessarily true. Since I don’t think of motherhood as a drudgery I don’t tend to rank it with hard work or suffering.

    The suffering I have experienced hasn’t been in the realm of motherhood. Rather it has come from outside of my family. My family gives me a real sense of peace and refuge from persecution and hardship from the outside world. I see that as a blessing from God.

  12. Thank you for sharing this! I am touched and so encouraged. We have three children and have decided to love and care for as many as God blesses us with.
    That being said, I suffer from hyperemesis during pregnancy and have had three miscarriages out of five pregnancies (our second is apopted). During my last pregnancy I was so ill that I could barely function much less home school or play with my older children. And my husband was deployed during part of the pregnancy and again shortly after our baby was born.
    Most people, including myself at times, would think that to go on having more children under these circumstances would be foolish.
    I am encouraged by this thread. Thank you. I needed that.

  13. Thank you so much for sharing the link to this post in a more recent post. I needed to hear this as I have been feeling really down on myself lately for being “tired, stressed and emotionally drained”. Too many people in my life use that as a reason why we shouldn’t have more children (let alone the children we have) and I guess I’ve been taking it too much to heart. The comparison to working women opened my eyes. thank you!

  14. I just realized that the last comment posted as my husband saying it instead of me! Sorry! I didn’t realize it, but he must have posted on one of your posts since the last time I posted (usually my name automatically pops up). The last comment was from me, Darcy!

  15. Absolutely DEAD ON what I needed to read!!!!! I am glad I “vented” on you yesterday so you shared this with me. I think I am letting the enemy tell me that because I don’t “pull this off” with as much grace as I had hoped I would that I must have been wrong about the “call”. You hit it so dead on! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!! Why should I offer a sacrifice to the Lord that cost me nothing???

    God bless you sister!

  16. Very encouraged. I get so frustrated by the attitudes of family and friends. Some how if you are suffering(having trials) as a mother of many children people have the attitude ” Well, you made your bed, so deal with it!”
    It’s a shame it has to be like that.

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