By: Beth Doohan
“I prayed to the Lord, and He answered me. He freed me from all my fears.” Psalm 34:4
“God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. So we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea.” Psalm 46:1–2
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For those of you who are mothers, you know that motherhood is a privilege, so fulfilling, and a lot of work. From dirty diapers and lack of sleep, to adventurous accidents and homework help, to sassy attitudes and driving lessons, motherhood is an ever-changing adventure. It can also be very challenging when we see our children hurting, sick or struggling with sin. As wholehearted women, we have been uniquely called to mother with an eternal perspective, raising our children to be Christ-followers in their youth, and ultimately to serve Him in adulthood. Many times, however, a little thing gets in the way of this calling: fear.
Everyone deals with fear sometimes, but I think that as mothers, our fear can compound out of control because we have so much more at stake. Here are just a few fears we may face:
- My child is struggling in school. Could he have a learning disability?
- With all the predators out there, what if something happens to my child?
- I want my child to know the Lord, but what if she turns away from Him one day?
- What if my son becomes a victim of bullying?
- I long for a close relationship with my child, but what if she rejects me when I discipline her?
- How do I protect my child from illness, disease, or even death?
As mothers, we should definitely use wisdom and listen to the Holy Spirit if we have a sense about our child’s protection, what is best for their wellbeing or how to help them succeed. But fear can quickly get out of hand if it becomes stronger than our trust in God for our children. So what do we do with our fears? I John 4:18 says, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear” (NASB). As mothers, we need to bring our fears before our loving heavenly Father, re-train our minds to believe God’s Word about our children, and allow His love to cast out fearful thoughts.
For those of you who have read my story in “Through Every Season: Experiencing God through Brokenness,” you know that my husband and I had a miscarriage before our son was born. After that loss, God took me on a journey of putting my hope and trust in Him. For a season during pregnancy and even after my son was born, I had to reject fearful thoughts of losing him and continually put my trust in the Lord for his protection and well-being. When facing crippling fears, I had to discipline my mind and heart to trust in the Lord. I had to choose not to dwell on these thoughts and instead, focus on the goodness of God and His protection for our family. When I did, God lovingly stepped in, removed all fear of losing our son, and filled me instead with His peace and joy. Psalm 34:4–5 says, “I prayed to the Lord, and He answered me. He freed me from all my fears. Those who look to Him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces.”
My heart’s prayer for our son has been that he would be the Lord’s for all his life—that he would belong to God, surrender his heart fully to God’s lordship, and serve Him by ministering to others. I still occasionally have thoughts of fear for our son, but have made it a practice to rebuke these fears with God’s Word and to trust in Him for protection and blessing.
Ladies, for those of you who are mothers, I encourage you to do three things to fight the fears you may be facing:
1) Develop Your Child’s Primary Identity.
Let your children’s primary identity be as sons and daughters of the Lord Jesus Christ. This means teaching them to become mature Christ-followers, praying that they would know the Lord in His fullness and encouraging them to make an impact for the Kingdom of God. The book Prayers and Promises for My Little Girl by Stormie Omartian shares the following prayer based on Jeremiah 29:13: “My sweet [child], may you believe from a very early age that if you seek God, you will find Him. When you search for God with all your heart, He has promised to make Himself known” (see also Prayers and Promises for My Little Boy). We are called as mothers to show our children who God is and point them to Him through His Word, prayer and worship. Psalm 8:2 says, “You have taught children and infants to tell of Your strength, silencing Your enemies and all who oppose You.” It is never too early, or too late, to start teaching our children about God and His ways. Remember that God chose YOU as your child’s mother. No one is better equipped, qualified, or capable for nurturing your child’s heart than you. Wholehearted women, let us passionately teach our children to love the Lord with all their hearts, minds, souls and strength and to love their neighbors as themselves.
2) Know Your God-Given Identity.
Let your primary identity be as daughters of the Lord Jesus Christ. This means knowing who you are in Christ apart from being a mother. After the birth of her son Samuel, Hannah returned to the temple to worship the Lord and give her son back to Him. “I asked the Lord to give me this boy, and He has granted my request. Now I am giving him to the Lord, and he will belong to the Lord his whole life” (I Samuel 1:26-28). Think of the courage this took for Hannah to give her heart’s desire completely up to the Lord. After years of pain and pleading with the Lord for a child, He granted her request, and she willingly gave her son back to Him. She knew her identity was found in her Lord, not just in being a mother. Hannah did not know if she would ever bear other children, but God blessed her for her heart of surrender and gratitude by giving her five other children. First and foremost, we are daughters of the King, then wives, mothers, sisters, friends, etc. God delights in you, calls you His own, and has equipped you with unique gifts and talents for serving Him. When our identity is found in Christ Jesus, we can have confidence and complete trust in His lordship and be examples of godly womanhood for our children.
3) Enjoy the Journey!
Enjoy this season of motherhood. This means refusing to fear for our children or cling to them. Of course we should love them deeply, protect them and do what is best for them, but must do so with our hope and trust in the Lord. We can know that they are ultimately in God’s care, and choose not to fear for them. And once our season of being responsible for their care is complete, we must continue to lift them up to the Lord, trusting that He will be at work in their lives As the Proverbs 31 woman is described, “She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future” (Proverbs 31:25). Let us put our confident trust in the Lord and lean on Him for wisdom and guidance in raising our children.
As the mother of our son Hunter, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for his precious life and love him deeply. But I think the experience of loss has given me an eternal perspective as I raise my son. Seeing him grow and develop, I enjoy each season and recognize that God has entrusted him into our care as parents for the purpose of showing him the love of the Lord and teaching him God’s ways so that he may become a mature man of God one day. The end goal is in mind—that he would be the Lord’s for all his life. As a mother, I see him as he is now, a baby. But I also picture him as a boy, a young man, and a man serving the Lord and loving Him with all his heart. I keep the end goal in mind: to raise a son who is strong in the Lord and in His mighty power, serving the Kingdom for Christ. As his mother, I recognize that although I love him dearly, he belongs to the Lord first and I have been entrusted with his care until he is grown. Like Hannah, I have dedicated him to the Lord for His plans and purposes.
Ladies, our hope and trust must be in the Lord, knowing that He is the protector of our families. We can trust Him and serve Him as mothers. We can teach our children God’s ways and devote ourselves to the Lord as His daughters. We can walk in the present, delighting in each season of motherhood. And when we do face challenges, crises or tragedies with our children, we can come to the Lord for wisdom, direction, and healing to be made whole. He is our refuge, our strength, and always ready to help when we face trouble (Psalm 46:1).
I encourage you to take some time today to read Psalm 34. As you do, pour your heart out to the Lord about the fears, hurts, and challenges you are experiencing. Ask Him to deliver you from fear, to provide healing for wounded hearts, and to give you wisdom for how to mother your children. He is faithful to answer and will show you His love as you trust in HIM to help you develop your children’s primary identity, to know your own identity in Christ, and to enjoy the journey of fearless motherhood with an eternal perspective!