I feel extremely blessed to be a woman. God created me so that I could experience the profound privilege of bringing children into this world and I am so grateful for that. I am the mother of four children. I cherish the nine months in which each of them grew inside me – as they developed a heart beat, grew little fingers and toes, stretched, kicked and hiccupped. The little arms around my neck and their warm, slobbery kisses were priceless. Now that the first has recently left home, I am even more acutely aware of the need to relish each moment I have with them. Yes, I am privileged to be a mother.
From the beginning of time, women have naturally had a desire to bear children. Hannah was found pouring her heart out to God in prayer, longing for the child she did not have. She promised God that if he blessed her with a child, she would dedicate him to the Lord. Women go to great lengths, even sometimes resorting to sinful behavior, in order to have a child. Remember Sarai and Abram? God promised them that they would have a child, but Sarai’s impatience led her to encourage Abram to have a child with her handmaid Hagar. Her decision to use a surrogate mother brought multiple heartaches to their family.
By and large, many societies have come to despise the gift of children. From 1973 through 2005, more than 45 million legal abortions have occurred in the U.S. alone. Doug Phillips has observed that the Bible teaches that children are a blessing and debt is a curse, but instead, we apply for a curse and reject the blessings. This mindset that children are a burden rather than a blessing has also filtered into the church. Throughout our four pregnancies, “well-intended” Christians felt compelled to give their two-cents worth, sometimes offering a half-hearted joke or dig, and at other times people expressed outright disapproval about the timing, as if we should have consulted them first. When I was pregnant with my fourth child, a preacher’s wife asked George “Was this one wanted?”
In order to be a successful mother,
you must cherish your children.
The message we hear over and over throughout the Scriptures is that children are a blessing. Psalm 127:5 “Lo, children are a heritage of Jehovah, and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows in the hand of a mighty man, so are the children of youth. Happy is the man that has his quiver full of them.” Isn’t it a bit odd then, that married couples put so much energy into NOT having children? How many times have you heard of children being referred to as “an accident”, or being “unwanted.” Maybe you’ve even used those terms yourself. Yes, sometimes children come as a surprise, but perhaps it would be good to rethink how we refer to those surprises. When children continually hear family members speak of them in such terms as “an accident”, or “_______ wasn’t really wanted…”, how might that affect the child? Additionally, how might our attitude affect the way we view the responsibilities these children bring?
As amazing as it is to give birth to a child, merely being able to physically bear a child does not make one a successful mother. Many couples, perhaps unable to physically conceive, have opened their hearts and their homes to nurture a child through adoption, and they have been successful parents in the truest sense – they have cherished these precious children and have worked diligently to train them in the way they should go (Prov. 22:16). They have taught these precious children the Sacred Writings from the time they are babes, as did the mother and grandmother of Timothy.
When Paul wrote to Titus, he told him “the older women need to teach the younger women to love their children.” There is more to loving our children than the warm, fuzzy feeling we get in our hearts because they are so cute. It means investing time – lots of time – to help them grow in wisdom, in stature, in favor with God and with man. Motherhood brings this personal responsibility; we do not have the right to hire someone else to do it for us.
There are some mothers who grudgingly concede that they should stay home to care for their children, but they make it clear to everyone that is has been a sacrifice to do so. How might this attitude affect children, when they hear a repeated message that they have been an imposition; they are the reason mom has not been able to pursue her career or concentrate on her personal goals? Yes, there are sacrifices that a mother makes for her family. But so do people in other professions. A doctor might sacrifice his sleep to tend to a medical emergency; perhaps the birth of your child. A lawyer might sacrifice his time in order to prepare for an important legal proceeding. A preacher might sacrifice an evening with his family in order to sit by the side of a dying church member. A ball-player might sacrifice an out so that another teammate can make a score. The sacrifices made by mothers are just as grand, just as important, if not more so.
Children need to know that they are wanted and loved. Rather than focus on the sacrifices that come with motherhood, why not view it as a wonderful gift from God, as well as an opportunity to serve Him in a great way? The greatest expression of love for our children is to teach them to love God and keep His commandments.
Cherish your children by preparing them for eternity.
Joy and her husband George live and serve as missionaries in Iringa, Tanzania, East Africa. They have four children, and a much-loved son-in-law. You can follow her adventures (and find many wonderful posts) at her blog.
Other posts in this series: