“Be fruitful and increase in number…” (Genesis 1:27 NIV)
From the foundations of the earth, long before the Fall, God made His intentions for multiplication quite clear. Ladies, we were fashioned for motherhood. Our whole frame is built around our womb. Along with this dedicated equipment comes joy and pain, expectation and disappointment, life and death. In the coming weeks, we are going to discover how we were designed with motherhood in mind. God had a good plan when He called us to conceive, carry and cultivate children. Even if we haven’t opportunity to carry our own, we’ve been created with intention to nurture. When we learn to mother well, we grow up in the process.
It’s been more than two decades since I saw those two pink lines, but I still remember running into our bedroom with the EPT in hand. My poor husband was half asleep in his response, I’m not sure it even registered. (We’d only been married a few years; now I know that he is not a fan of surprises, even good ones!) Unfazed, I was elated enough for the both of us, but in the very next moment, I sunk to the floor in realization: “What did we do!?!” Suddenly we were bringing a whole other person into the world and we could barely take care of ourselves!
Whether we’ve hoped and prayed and tried for a pregnancy or been caught off guard and surprised –– we all approach motherhood with some measure of expectation. We have ideas about how and when motherhood might happen, what kind of mother we’d be, what sort of child we’d raise. We typically don’t get too far into personal experience before we realize the reality is quite different than our expectation.
In the years since my first positive pregnancy test, I’ve studied many inspiring mothers in scripture. Jochebed (the mother of Moses) has stood out to me most recently. Her faith expressed in action over decades is nothing short of astounding. I’d like to spend some time together unpacking her story and making application to our own.
As the book of Exodus opens, the Jews were still in Egypt four hundred years after Joseph had died. Pharaoh had long forgotten the dreamer and his salvation of the nation. The Egyptians began to see the Hebrews as an imposition instead of a blessing. Egypt found the their fruitfulness intimidating and enslaved them in an effort to squelch their spirits.
Historically, man cannot curse what God has blessed. The Hebrew population, though exploited, continued to explode under Pharaoh’s oppression. Jews weren’t fashioned for slavery, they were fashioned to flourish. And so they did, despite their deteriorating conditions. Pharaoh made their lives bitter, and when the bitterness did not diminish them, he set out to destroy their hopes further. He demanded the death of every newborn Jewish boy. He ordered the midwives to murder the boys at birth, but the midwives feared God far more than Pharaoh.
Jochebed wasn’t a first-time momma when Moses made his way into her womb, but a seasoned parent. She had already given birth to Aaron and Miriam when she discovered she was pregnant again. Childbirth has always been risky business; until the last hundred years or so many women and children died in the process. Jochebed’s third pregnancy wasn’t a happy occasion, but a fearful thing with terrible timing. To carry a pregnancy to term under Pharoah’s reign was to embrace a fifty-fifty chance of heartache after the birthing pains had ceased.
Moses was most likely loved and wanted, but going through with the pregnancy included a high cost for his mother. This is still true today: to carry a child from conception to birth and beyond is to open your heart up to tremendous risk.
Four millennia before the sonogram, Jochebed had no way of knowing whether she was having a boy or a girl. Birthing a Jewish boy into Goshen meant murder on arrival. Was Jochebed tempted to end her pregnancy? Did she consider other alternatives? Abortion is an ancient option: there were tools and herbs and accomplices to accomplish the task documented as far back as 1550 BC. Jochebed didn’t bow to her fears or cave into temptation. She persevered through what could only be described as a high-risk pregnancy.
The further I walk with Jochebed, the more I’m convinced, she was a brave lady full of faith. She carried on amidst the crush of hormones and the fury of Pharaoh. She chose to see her pregnancy to term. When her worst fears were realized and a baby boy was born, she hid him as long as she could. And then she built a basket and put him in a river –– but that’s next week’s discussion. 🙂
We all know who Moses grew up to be. Where would we be without without his mother’s courage? What stories would be stricken from scripture without her commitment to hope and life? How many slaves did her son set free because she refused to let fear write her story?
The risks of motherhood will always exist. The temptation to avoid it remains. The means to extinguish have only improved. We must maintain divine perspective: however motherhood happens, we have been fashioned for it. God intentionally designed us for this awesome and terrifying responsibility. What’s more, He accompanies us on every step of the journey.
Some pregnancy circumstances are more favorable than others, but when given the opportunity, God does marvelous things through these tiny humans He knits together in our secret places. As women, we have been entrusted with the holy, high calling of carrying children into the world. It’s costly, but critical to the redemption of humanity.
“I am the Lord’s servant… May Your word to me be fulfilled.” (Luke 1:38 NIV)
Lord, today we recognize that we have been fashioned for motherhood. We also realize the risks therein. Give us courage as we embrace Your good plan for humanity, especially as it unfolds in our frames. May we approach motherhood full of faith in Your ability to redeem all things. Amen.
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