“The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy… Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy.
He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him.”
Psalm 126:3, 5-6
Lately I’ve been feeling pretty discouraged and, if I’m honest, even dreading the next few months. It will be a time of busyness, change, stress, festivities, new seasons, new people, new surroundings, new baby, and a whole new life. God’s Word is the only constant in my life – He never changes, His Word is always timely, and I love that.
The word encourage means to “be of good courage”. I’m not afraid of many things; but honestly, I’m terrified of becoming a mother, of moving to a new area, of having my life completely changed in an instant. But God has seen fit to surround me with other women of Christ, who are themselves experiencing this next season I’ll soon enter, who have been profound means of God’s grace and blessing to me. Through counsel and fellowship with the godly mothers that I know, today I’ve been reminded of why I ought to be of good courage through God’s Word:
1. The Lord has done great things
As cliche as it seems, considering the gifts and blessings I have is a great spiritual discipline that leads to growth in holiness and humility. Among all the present blessings and provisions, none stands out more magnificently than the gift of salvation: to know God, and to trust in Jesus for salvation from sin, is a phenomenal gift, and an ever-abounding source of rest.
The LORD is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear? Psalm 27:1
2. Christ is powerful in my suffering
Christ is our unchanging, eternal stronghold and foundation. He is so gracious, and so powerful, that He can 1) use the troubles in life for my good and joy, 2) purpose suffering and hardships as means of grace and sanctification (see 2 Corinthians 12:9), 3) glorify Himself through both good and bad circumstances in my life, and 4) He is profoundly powerful and able to satisfy a suffering soul, with a peace, joy and intimacy which transcends all human understanding.
I delight greatly in the LORD; my soul rejoices in my God.
For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness
3. God’s priorities look different to the world’s priorities
Most people’s first reactions to us deciding to have kids were ones of complete shock and horror. “But you’re so young! Why not travel first? Why not save your money? You don’t own a house! Save your body! Enjoy your life!” – these came from non-Christians, which we expected – but also from Christians. This shocked us quite a lot, considering what the bible says about children:
“Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from Him.” Psalm 127:3
“God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.” Genesis 1:28
“Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:14
The phrase that particularly took us by surprise from Christians was, “enjoy your life!” – as if life with kids isn’t enjoyable, or is somehow less joy filled than life with no kids. And I’m certain that life with kids isn’t easy, or without hardships, worries and struggles. But, what was it that Paul said in 2 Corinthians 12 again? Oh, that’s right!
“That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.
For when I am weak… then I am strong“
We were convicted by the Holy Spirit, through prayer and reading the Scriptures, that to decide against having kids on the sole premise that we might not enjoy life as much (it wouldn’t be convenient, or secure, or successful) was selfish, unChristlike and symptomatic of trusting in the world rather than in God’s Word. God in His wisdom and perfect timing filled us with good courage and peace, and guidance about what He was calling us to do. And not once have we ever regretted our obedience to that call, despite the hardships that have come.
4. God’s Word is our source of Good Courage
Because of the truths in Scripture, I can be of good courage – encouraged! – about our family’s future. I can look ahead knowing that the only certainty of my life is God’s absolute sovereignty, goodness, power, and faithfulness to His people; and I can know that this is the only certainty I need for peace in all things. Here are some Scriptures that have really encouraged me today, that I hope you will also find good courage in:
Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him
Fear the Lord, you His saints, for those who fear Him lack nothing.
The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing!
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for,
but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.
If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the words of God. If anyone serves,
he should serve with the strength God provides,
so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.
1 Peter 4:11a
Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time.
Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.
1 Peter 5:6-7
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.