I’m up late and can’t sleep because my circadian rhythm has been thrown off yet again by our 5-month baby girl. Oh yes, you moms and dads out there know what I’m talking about. And since I have your attention, and I can’t sleep, please allow me to speak two truths of encouragement for weary parents. This will be short, I promise. Because you may be interrupted soon by who knows what.
Truth #1: Parenting is Hard
At first glance, this truth seems like the last thing tired parents need to hear. It certainly is the last thing I want to hear. I can’t tell you how many times we have relayed some anguished story of parenting, only to get the response, “That’s life!”
But God’s response to our sob stories is quite a bit different. Scripture does not hesitate to commiserate with our despair over the vanity of life. God’s response to our hardship is not, “Yeah, that’s just how it goes, get used to it!” In Ecclesiastes the preacher mourns the vanity of life apart from God. He knows God alone can give purpose and meaning to a million little messes.
And let’s not forget some of the most precious verses in all the Bible, Psalm 103:13-14.
As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.
God truly, intimately knows how hard life is for you right now. His compassion overflows for you. And he does not merely sympathize; he will show compassion, the verse says. You can truly be satisfied in God’s concern for you, even when others don’t seem to understand. The responsibility and hardship of adulthood is a very valuable gift. It teaches us to hunger and long for God to meet our deepest needs.
Truth #2: God is Glorious (even in parenting)
I think the hardships of parenting are yet another tool God uses in this life to draw us to himself. It’s kind of funny looking back on my mindset “pre-parenting.” I’m not sure what I was expecting life to be like before I had kids, but I can say this- children defy all expectations. When things are going well, parenting can be thrilling. But when things are not going well, parenting can be… well, you know.
It really is silly to place my expectation of satisfaction and joy in a 6 year-old or a 5 month-old or a (fill in the blank). But we all are probably guilty of this sin more often than we would want to admit. Somehow we subconsciously assume if we have a growing family, a good job, a nice home, and etc., we should be happy people.
But our hearts weren’t made to be satisfied in anything less than God. Inevitably the late nights catch up to us. Or, as it was for me at dinner time tonight, a spilled cup of chocolate milk sums up the day (I can understand “Don’t cry over spilled milk,” but this was chocolate milk).
God is graciously calling us back to himself in the countless little people mishaps. He’s reminding us to look to him alone for our ultimate satisfaction. Sure, quiet time with him may seem illusive, but if we seek him we will find him if we search with all our hearts (Jeremiah 39:13). Quality over quantity is the name of the game for pooped out parents. He wants us to be desperate for him. It’s an incredible, thrilling paradox that God would use something so mundane and ordinary as the daily drudgery of parenting to help us behold his glory. Parenting is God’s divine means of helping you feel your need of him today and having that need met as you seek him.
So it’s OK if your heart is disquieted within you. Consider it a fresh opportunity to hope in God (Psalms 42-43). It’s OK if you feel fear creeping into your heart. It’s time to trust in God (Psalm 56). It’s OK if you struggle with the temptation to be harsh with your children. It’s a fresh opportunity to point them, and you, back to the Lord (Colossians 3:21).
So hang in there, mom & dad. The late nights, early mornings, dirty diapers, petty fights, randomly placed stickers, unexpected DIY haircuts, clogged toilets, persistent pleas, incessant interruptions, and grabby fingers all serve to secure your satisfaction in God. Rest in him today.