Any given day one or more of the following thoughts fill my mind:
“Why does motherhood have to be so hard?”
“Toddlers and preschoolers are not really my thing.”
“I am not using my time/skills/gifts in the most effective way.”
“I can’t believe my moments are made up of this [fill in the blank!]”
These thoughts and the attitudes of the heart they flow from, whether consciously or unconsciously, reveal beliefs about God. They also reveal what I treasure other than God. Have you found yourself wrestling with similar thoughts?
What we believe about God and what we treasure matter. They impact everything in our lives, including how we experience the difficulties and sacrifices of motherhood. When I say, “Toddlers and preschoolers are not really my thing,” the heart of it may be questioning God’s plan in making me a mom. At least that’s what I see in my heart. I am doubting His wisdom and ability to enable me to parent toddlers and preschoolers. In thinking, “Why does motherhood have to be so hard?” I find I am treasuring strength and rejecting weakness. As a mom I feel entitled to rest, sleep, relationships, or success. When any of those is taken from me, I am chafing at the life God has called me. In those moments, I am not trusting my Father’s plans for my life.
One of my assumptions for this series is that we are all theologians. Theology is not only the study of God but also knowing God. In the book, On Being a Theologian of the Cross, Gherard Forde defines a theologian like this: “being a theologian just means thinking and speaking about God.” We all think and speak about God, even when we don’t realize it. We need a theology of suffering because what we think about God, expressly or not, shapes our experience of suffering. How do we know Him and how do we grow in our knowledge of Him?
Knowing God through the Jesus who died and rose again
God has chosen to reveal Himself in the Crucified Christ. When Philip asked, “Show us the Father,” Jesus responded, “He who has seen me has seen the Father.” (John 14: 8-9). This Jesus is a Lamb who was slain and has risen again. Because our life as believers is hidden in Christ, our lives now have the same pattern of His–death, burial, resurrection. God reveals His power and glory to us as we become like Him through the fellowship of His sufferings. Our tendency is to want to know him apart from suffering, but it is in suffering that He reveals key aspects of His glory. Dear moms, we must embrace our call to know God through the Christ who suffered and died.
What does it mean to know God through the Crucified Christ? In Philippians 3:1-11 Paul explains how knowing Christ motivated him to willingly give up everything else he treasured. Let’s look at the passage briefly.
First (v.1), Paul gives a command to rejoice and to rejoice in the Lord. Earlier in Philippians he referred to Jesus Christ as the Lord. So this command to rejoice is a specific command to rejoice in Christ Jesus.
Second (v.2), there is a warning: beware of those who want to put their confidence in the flesh. Putting our confidence in the flesh is a threat to joy in Christ.
Third, (v. 3) the reason for the warning is in our identity. We are the true circumcision or the new covenant people of God. As His people we serve by the Spirit of God. We boast or glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh.
Fourth (vv. 4-6)—Paul listed all the reasons he had to put his confidence in the flesh. As a Jew he had much human glory, an impressive resume which had been the ground of his righteousness.
Death and Resurrection–the way to know Christ
But in verses 7-11 Paul “counts as loss” what gave him confidence in himself, because knowing Christ was a treasure that far surpassed anything else. He accepted the loss of all things so he could know Christ. For Paul, knowing Christ meant knowing the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings (v. 10). And the way to know the power of Christ’s resurrection and experience His fellowship was in being like Him in his death– not only in his literal death if necessary, but also in being like Him who made Himself nothing, took the form of a servant and humbled himself even to death (Phil. 2: 7 ff).
To sum up, Christ was Paul’s joy and glory. He yearned so much to know Him that he could rejoice in the loss of all things, if by that suffering He would know Him intimately and enjoy Him forever. Paul knew that he would truly know Jesus and His power as he entered the fellowship of His sufferings. His ultimate goal was to attain the resurrection from the dead, and in rising again, to be with His Savior.
In the next post I will dig deeper into the implications of this passage for us as moms. But for now, friend, let us embrace the call to know God His way. Indestructible joy awaits us there.