Training Your Feelings
As we read and meditate on God’s Word, our aim is to know our great God who loves us and called us to be his daughters by grace through faith in his Son. As we read the Bible, we inevitably come across things that are contrary to the way we feel. This is to be expected, though, because our feelings do not automatically line up with truth. But all is not lost; God has not left us without hope. We will be transformed by the renewal of our mind as we embrace and love and obey God’s Word with the help of his Spirit. His Spirit also works in us as our powers of discernment are trained to recognize the truth and discern whether our feelings are in line with that truth.
When I say we need to train our feelings, what I mean is we need to train our feelings to submit to the truth revealed in God’s Word. I’ll be the first mom to raise my hand and say, “My feelings don’t always correspond with the truth,” and sometimes the way I deal with that is by rummaging around in the kitchen for some food to distract myself from the conflict I feel. Pretzel sticks in peanut butter help many things, but fixing my wayward feelings isn’t one of them. We should ask God for help: “Help me, Father. My feelings don’t match your Word. I want to love your Word and follow you more than I want to follow my feelings. Please change my feelings.”
Some truths reveal our wayward feelings more often than others. For many people “children are a heritage from the Lord” is one of those truths that our emotions don’t automatically, wholeheartedly affirm. One minute we joyfully embrace our heritage of children and the next minute we are on our knees begging God to increase our faith and trust him because our motherhood is so painful. It is so important for us to know that we do not have to rely on our feelings and emotions when we consider the children we raise. Contrary to the cultural opinions of our day, which are all over the map regarding how they view children, without any disclaimers, the Bible teaches that children are a heritage from the Lord. As God’s humble creatures, we must look to him and his Word in order to understand what it means to be blessed.
As we know, God doesn’t reflect us, but we are made in his image. And so on that note, we should know that the Bible teaches that God has a heritage. If your eyebrows just raised at that statement, then you’ve read it correctly. Yes, the Lord God who created everything you can see and cannot see and who rules over all things . . . has a heritage. He has something, or rather, someones whom he says are his heritage. God’s people—his saints—are his heritage. Everyone who is called out of the kingdom of darkness and born again by the Spirit is adopted into God’s people. “Saints” he calls us, as he sees us through the righteousness of his crucified and resurrected Son.
Ask and I’ll Give the Nations to You
One of the reasons our children are given as a heritage from the Lord is so that we can know and love our heavenly Father more and more. Our childbirth and fertility is not about us, but about God. He is not like us or made in our image, but we are like him, made in his image. As we saw in previous chapters, our feelings about motherhood and our multiplying of children are informed by what we believe about discipleship. Jesus’s heritage is men, women, and children who are “put[ting] on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its Creator” (Col. 3:10). This fruitful multiplying (or “spiritual fertility”) is the work of the Holy Spirit in and through us as we share the gospel and disciple people. Our feelings about fertility, birth, and motherhood are infused with gospel hope and an eternal perspective. Think of Paul—an unmarried man without biological children— who says he became Onesimus’s spiritual father (Philem. 10)!
As God’s humble creatures, we must look to him and his Word in order to understand what it means to be blessed.
Our wayward feelings about motherhood—whether we are prone to glorying in it or growing bitter about it—need to consider the related truth that our Father has given his Son a heritage. What has Jesus inherited from his Father? His heritage, of course!
The Father’s glorious inheritance in the saints—his children ransomed from death—he gives to his Son. Our family points us to God’s family. These children whom Jesus suffered and died for are the joy that was set before him when he went to his crucifixion. They are the reward of his suffering. Because of them a new song of praise is being sung to Jesus:
Worthy are you to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
for you were slain,
and by your blood you ransomed people for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation,
and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
and they shall reign on the earth. (Rev. 5:9–10)
The writer of Hebrews says that Jesus is not ashamed to call us brothers: “Behold, I and the children God has given me” (Heb. 2:13). Here he is citing Isaiah 8:18, when just before a surprise Assyrian invasion the prophet Isaiah said, “Behold, I and the children whom the Lord has given me are signs and portents in Israel from the Lord of hosts, who dwells on Mount Zion.” Will you, on the eve of battle, put all your trust in the Lord, who commands the armies of heaven? The “near” fulfillment of this prophetic word is that Isaiah and his children were physical signs among the people, attesting to the veracity of God’s Word and the only reliable ally in the face of invasion. The “far” fulfillment of this prophetic word is that Jesus our Prophet, the Lord of hosts, stands together with the redeemed remnant—from every tribe and language and people and nation—awesome as an army with banners.
Christ’s inheritance is the godly offspring given to him by his Father. “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward” ultimately points us to Jesus, the Lord of hosts, the warrior whose quiver is full of arrows to be launched into a world that is dying without him. Jesus will not be put to shame as he builds his church, over which the gates of hell will not prevail.
Even though he was crushed by God and put to grief for our sins, Jesus was raised to eternal life and will see his offspring. “Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession” (Ps. 2:8), his Father offered. The eternal Son of God asked, and he shall receive. Jesus is worthy to receive the reward of his suffering! And God’s glorious Word is worthy of our trust even when our feelings disagree.
This article is adapted from Labor with Hope: Gospel Meditations on Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Motherhood by Gloria Furman.
While motherhood is a desirable and godly calling, it also brings pain and heartache. But God is still good. He really is, no matter what. These are ten truths for moms like me to cling to on our difficult days.
Even while you and I experience the joys and bear the burdens of this glorious thing called motherhood, we remain—and always will remain—beloved daughters of our heavenly Father. Beloved is who we are.
We all hit moments when life shatters our expectations of motherhood. My “moment” came early on, but sooner or later it happens to all of us.
Children are not naturally obedient. The problem lies in the opposite direction. The little fellows are sinners—and sin hardens.