Fifteen years ago, I nibbled Saltines to settle a queasy stomach before climbing out of bed in the morning. I craved anything citrus, super-food for a growing placenta. As I moved into the second trimester of my first pregnancy, a ravenous appetite replaced morning sickness. Blissfully oblivious to the idea that eating for two was an old wives’ tale, I dug into that extra bowl of ice cream with gusto and a super-sized spoon.
It wasn’t long before my mom, a fruit connoisseur, brought beautiful fruit salad—a mixture of melon and luscious berries with some bright, yellow pineapple chunks—to my bedside as I recovered from an emergency C-section and fumbled with the art of breastfeeding. At home with my newborn son, my mother-in-law fed me post-partum bran muffins and my pastor’s wife brought her famed lasagna.
There was a perfect food for each stage of my early motherhood, and it reminds me of manna, the perfect food that God provided for the Israelites when they wandered in the wilderness prior to entering the Promised Land. For forty years, God fed his people with manna for a purpose:
“And [God] humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord” (Deuteronomy 8:3, emphasis mine).
In other words, the people were humbled and hungry, and then God fed them with food they hadn’t even known existed. God did this so that his people would learn that life isn’t really about food. It’s about him.
God can use motherhood to lead us to the same discovery.
Humbled and Hungry
We muddle through motherhood, not quite sure what we’re doing: What’s the best way to remove snot from my infant’s nose? How do I help him fall asleep when he outgrows being swaddled? What’s my bag of tricks for taking a toddler out to eat? What do I when my three-year-old is completely unmotivated to potty train?
We’re frequently humbled and we’re often hungry, sometimes literally but definitely spiritually. It’s easy to lose sight of the end goal—showing Jesus’ love and living out the gospel while raising a human.
The humility of motherhood isn’t living in sweats and a day without make-up. It’s sacrificing self to serve another. It’s an investment of emotional energy, prayer-worn knees, sleepless nights, ER visits, and countless counseling sessions. It may cost a career or a salary band or certain kinds of vacations.
This kind of humbling often leaves us feeling weak, weary, and worn. And like other times in life when we feel desperate, we’re well positioned to see that true satisfaction isn’t found in comfort foods but in God’s Word. Mamas truly live by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.
Over the past fifteen years of motherhood, I’ve found myself in some desperate places in my home. Holding a screaming child through a tantrum in the bedroom. Praying on my knees on the kitchen floor. Escaping for five minutes of peace in the bathroom.
I’ve also found myself in some desperate places outside of my home, especially related to medical situations. Squeezing a child’s hand in an ambulance—three times. On a hospital bed receiving a blood transfusion in the midst of a traumatic miscarriage. In an out-of-state hotel room with multiple children vomiting while my husband drove to the drug store to pick up over-the-counter medication.
Desperate times exhaust my resources and leave me soul-hungry.
When our resources are depleted, God provides food that we didn’t even know existed. He opens our eyes to see the gospel and how it applies to motherhood—and any season of our lives—throughout the Bible. He does this to show us that our lives are about so much more than daily bread and daily routines. Our lives are designed to point to him, to glorify him.
Ten Go-To Bible Verses
Here are ten go-to Scripture verses that have sustained me in both mundane and profound moments of desperate motherhood. They are manna for mamas, and they remind us that motherhood isn’t just about us and our babies. Motherhood is another means of sanctification that points us to our Savior—Jesus, the Word made flesh, the bread of heaven that satisfies our souls for eternity.
1. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble…Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:1, 10).
2. “He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young” (Isaiah 40:11).
3. “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).
4. “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
5. “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
6. “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9).
7. “…that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us…” (Ephesians 3:16-20)
8. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).
9. “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:17).
10. “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence” (2 Peter 1:3).
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