Two months ago we moved to another country. Even though people here have been very kind to us, we are still in the process of developing close friendships. I am at times battling loneliness and am desirous of deep connections. Recently, I was excited for several coffee/playdates lined up that week. I was really looking forward to spend time with other ladies. In God’s providence four out of five of these times were cancelled, most of them because of illness in either mine or their kids. The morning I found out about the fourth cancellation, I was sorely disappointed. That day also brought painful joints from chronic inflammation and sick little girls who were needy and butting heads. As I looked ahead at the next eight hours, I really wanted to give into self-pity. I missed home in Ohio, was lonely for friends and longed for help. To be honest, I cried as my husband left for work.
It is for weeks like these that I need a theology of suffering. I am quickly tempted to self-pity, anger and impatience when certain things are taken away. How does glorying in Christ and treasuring Him speak into the disappointments, loneliness and physical suffering I experienced that week?
In the last post I wrote about how the main way to know God is to know the crucified Christ and to be like Him in His death and resurrection. Philippians 3 shows that we rejoice in Christ as we put our trust in His righteousness and despair of our own. Putting our confidence in the flesh is both a threat to our joy and the enemy of knowing God. The more we trust ourselves, the less we experience Christ’s power.
These truths give me perspective as a mom. I want to know God but I often don’t want to know Him by the means that He has designed. I have prayed, like Moses, “Show me your glory,” and what I really mean is “I want to see your glory as I go from triumph to triumph, from victory to victory, from success to success.” It may be just a moment of quiet, or a room I picked up to stay that way, feeling like I measure up to others, or simply wanting to be noticed. I don’t want to find myself easily tempted and failing, so vulnerable, so needy.
Our Daily Little Deaths–The Ground to See His Glory
Our lives as Christian moms are such a mercy! Our daily little deaths are the ground in which we can see the glory of God. We see His glory as we experience His power. Jesus is now seated at the right hand of God. It is with His resurrection power that He is now enabling us to serve! He gives us His Spirit so we may serve our families by His strength (Phil. 3: 3). We can go ahead in faith in spite of our felt weakness because He is serving us so we can serve others.
Our tendency in the flesh is to find joy and put our confidence in that which is tangible and visible, but temporary—feeling loved and that we belong; our past successes at work or in ministry; being respected and admired for our gifts and skills; managing our homes efficiently; laying down routines; in our credentials as moms; thinking we are better than other moms. Every time we lose these tangible goals is a mini joy-producing death where we get to see His glory in the things which are not seen.
When the Lord allows me to experience pain and weakness while still having to care for my girls, His resurrection power is mine by faith as I put my hope to endure in His strength. In serving my two littles every day, I am walking in the footsteps of the One who made Himself nothing and took the form of a servant (Phil. 2: 7-8). We are “always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies” (2 Corinthians 4: 10).
When I see ways in which I am weak as a mom–not as creative or imaginative or efficient as I would like to be–I need to set my eyes on what I can not see: He is the One that does the work. He will take care of my kids and be all they need. He alone will get the glory for anything good that comes out of my parenting. If his name and glory are really “the desire of our hearts” (Isaiah 26: 8), then we find much joy in knowing our parenting is for the glory of His praise and not ours.
So if the way we will truly know God and His glory is as we die and the risen Jesus lives His life in us, we then gladly die.
Christ, Our Treasure
When Christ takes away the things that bring us joy, or those relationships that serve as an strengthening influence, we don’t have to despair because He is our hope. Christ the greatest Good of all, was not withheld from me, even if rest, health, and deep, intimate friendship were, on the week I mentioned earlier. And He never will.
So friend– next time you and I find ourselves thinking:
“Lord, this is not how I want to spend this day\
[driving kids around, comforting a sick child after a sleepless night, dealing with this child’s hormones, doing conflict resolution all.day.long, doing this parenting thing with a husband who is working late again, or throwing up with morning sickness]”,
Let us, with faith, pray instead:
“Lord, I want to know you right here in the unexpected places.
Give me eyes to see your resurrection power enabling me to serve.
Show me your glory as I die to my comfort, my desires, my interests.
I want to experience You living your life in me.
I am dead to sin so I don’t need to give into it.
You are my treasure.
Show me what it means that you are enough.”
And, dear sister, rest assured—at the last day the repeatedly tested genuineness of our faith, borne out through many kinds of trials, will result in praise and honor and glory to Christ (1 Peter 1:7). Nothing will be lost. Christ will get the glory and we will enjoy Him forever.