Mother’s Day: Honoring Moms,Teaching the Next Generation ‘The Noblest and Most Precious Work’

May 10, 2019 By John Stonestreet

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On Mother’s Day, most of us take intentional time and effort to show our moms how much we love and appreciate them, and how much we’re thankful for their love and sacrifice. I’m not always as intentional as I should be about honoring the moms in my life, especially the one who gave me life and the one who’s currently doing the really heavy lifting caring for our kids.

But especially in this cultural moment, Christians should be the first, not only to honor current mothers, but also to celebrate and encourage future mothers.

Andrea Burke, writing at For the Church, suggests that we’re not always very good at this. As a result, for too many young Christians, cultural attitudes toward motherhood are setting the tone. And it’s not a positive tone.

Burke calls motherhood “the one life dream that makes a girl blush.” In her work directing her church’s women’s ministry, Burke regularly sits down with single, young women to talk about the future. They often confess that although they could pursue further education or a successful career in any number of fields, what many of them want is to get married and raise a family.

By Burke’s account, these young women are smart and accomplished. They don’t have to prove anything to anyone. Still, they regularly talk as if choosing to be a wife and mom is a silly cop-out—somehow a waste of their lives. “When a 21-year-old sits across the table from me and tells me that she wants to be a mother,” Burke writes, “she blushes and gives a thousand caveats as to why she knows it’s not the optimal choice.”

Where do young women get this low view of motherhood? Well, look around. According to a New York Times article last year, the average age at which women become mothers is now at a record high—30 or older in some parts of the country. The Times reported this as if it were a good thing, talking up the wonders of a “fulfilling career” and all-but-openly suggesting that the only reason any woman would have children young is because she couldn’t achieve the ideal professional life, and needs a substitute rite of passage to adulthood.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the average birth rate failed to rebound after the Great Recession, and now sits at a rock-bottom 1.77 children per woman on average—that’s down over 16 percent from a decade ago.

So now there’s a gap in our culture between the number of children women want to have, and the number they end up having.

The Times explains, “it’s unlikely any future baby boom will be able to fully offset the baby bust of the last 10 years.” This means that “millennial women are likely to experience the largest shortfall in achieved fertility verses their stated family desires of any generation in a long time … .”

What does all this have to do with young women embarrassed about wanting to become mothers? Well, they need honesty from us—specifically from their parents, that whatever society says about the wonders of a successful career, they’re statistically likely to regret prioritizing promotions over parenthood.

At BreakPoint.org, my colleague Shane Morris recently wrote a beautiful letter to his six-year-old daughter, in which he encouraged her to think of marriage and motherhood as callings worth pursuing, not as afterthoughts. Shane described how his daughter already is in the habit of tucking her little brother’s trucks to bed. Shane is right in seeing in those nurturing instincts things worth celebrating and cultivating.

His letter reminded me of Martin Luther’s praise for nurturing tendencies in his commentary on Genesis: “How becomingly even little girls carry infants in their arms,” he wrote. “And how appropriate are the gestures with which mothers dandle the little ones when they hush a crying infant or lay it in the cradle … .” Elsewhere he says: “In all the world this is the noblest and most precious work.”

If you’ve got daughters (like I do) or granddaughters or even nieces, proudly tell these young women that if motherhood is their dream, they’ve got nothing to be ashamed of.

John Stonestreet is President of The Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview and BreakPoint co-host.

https://www.cnsnews.com/commentary/john-stonestreet/mothers-day-honoring-moms-teaching-next-generation-noblest-and-most

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Hills and Valleys

Psalm 22:1- My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning?

It seems to me that our Christian culture has made it a sin to despair, to question God, to be just downright sad. However, the Bible is filled with mighty men of God who struggled with God, who questioned God, sought their own way, or just had down days. I don’t feel like Christianity should promote despair, but I also don’t think that it should try to make it seem like everything is awesome, every day of the week. This is an unrealistic goal which can cause us to be frustrated when we cannot achieve it, or to ignore these thoughts and push them away without dealing with them directly.

Now before we continue, I am not talking in this post about clinical depression that needs treatment from a licensed clinical psychiatrist, which I am not. Depression is a real struggle for many and I will not claim to have all the answers to it.

Let’s look in the Bible where men of God questioned God and their circumstances:

• John the Baptist was in prison and questioned if Jesus was the Messiah even after proclaiming it at Jesus’ baptism (Matthew 11:2-3)

• Habakkuk 1:2- O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear? Or cry to you “Violence!” and you will not save?

• Moses was frustrated with God and the Israelites many times. In Numbers 11:11 he said to the Lord, “Why are you treating me, your servant, so harshly? Have mercy on me! What did I do to deserve the burden of all these people?

• Many of David’s psalms were filled with sadness and discouragement including Psalm 22

• In Psalms 73, Asaph questioned God about the prosperity of the wicked

• After the defeat of the prophets of Baal, Elijah suffered from despair, even wishing to die. In 1 Kings 19:4 he said “I have had enough Lord, take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors who have already died.”

• Jonah rebelled against God, but after the successful saving of Nineveh, Jonah became bitter telling God “Now, Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.” Jonah 4:3

Now it’s easy as Christians to quote the Bible where it says “the joy of the Lord is our strength” and “rejoice in the Lord always”. I’m not saying that these are not good goals, but as fallible humans we need to understand that we will have good and bad days, we will have strong faith mixed with weak faith, we will question God and we will be without any doubt. There are high and low points in our “climb up the mountain” as Christians. Just read Pilgrim’s Progress…

Martin Luther, the great reformer, struggled with doubt. It’s one of the key drivers of him questioning the church at the time to lead the reformation. At one point his doubt led to such great a depression that he wrote, “For more than a week I was close to the gates of death and hell. I trembled in all my members. Christ was wholly lost. I was shaken by desperation and blasphemy of God.”

What is our end goal when we despair? If we question God or have sadness what do we do? We do not live in that state, we use it to propel us forward and out of it. We seek help, read the Bible, pray to God, and ultimately stand firm in our faith in who God is. It is important to not go through this alone, we need to find fellow believers we can be accountable with and who we can call up when we are struggling.

Feel free to read my previous post on “Wrestling with God.” God is a big God and He can handle our doubts, worries, anxieties, fears, and sadness. If we give them over to God, He can handle them where we, in our own strength, cannot. Once we rest in God’s sovereignty, we can realize that we do not have all the answers, and that is ok.

Back to Psalm 73, it is my favorite Psalm. The first half is the authors frustration’s with the wicked, but by the end it brings him to a place of confidence in God and His ultimate plan. How he may not understand everything fully, but his ultimate trust is in God.

23  Yet I am always with you;
you hold me by my right hand.
24  You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will take me into glory.
25  Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
26  My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.
27  Those who are far from you will perish;
you destroy all who are unfaithful to you.
28  But as for me, it is good to be near God.
I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge;
I will tell of all your deeds.

May the same be said of us, that we can use our dark times to help illuminate God and His power, that we can rest in the fact that He has everything under control. Our doubts and fears are not sinful in and of themselves, we should not feel unworthy for having them. But after we push through, get everything out in the open, and fall back on God’s sovereignty, we can get back to pursuing God. We can then truly claim that “The Joy of the Lord is my Strength” (Nehemiah 8:10)

Discerning Reflection: What do I do when I am sad, when I question God? Do I pray and turn to Him or do I turn away from Him? Do I feel shame for having those thoughts? How can I quickly turn around from these thoughts and who do I need to be accountable with to help me?

Prayer: Lord help me seek after you in the good and the bad times, help me understand that I will have high and low points and to not despair but to trust that you have everything under control.

Hills and Valleys