To go into all the details would be too time-consuming and quite irrelevant to the point of what I am sharing today. The point is that Satan has been attacking me hard. Now, I don't know that he is attacking me any harder than any other Christian mother, but this isn't a contest.
I don't need to share the details of my particular burdens for you to just know, because most moms will know.
You know because he has attacked you, too.
He has burdened your conscience.
He has sent life events to drown you.
He has taken births of blessings and turned them into the darkest moments of your lives.
He has looked at your repentance and told you it isn't enough.
He has seen what makes you angry, and he uses it against you.
He has led you into temptation.
He has encouraged you when you start to question why God would do these things to you.
My dark place is ever-going at the moment. Nine months and going strong. A constant battle to just choose to try again the next day, with the knowledge that another day of crushing blows is probably coming. I tend to be a positive person, which actually makes this so much stranger for me. I still tend toward positive thinking, and yet I can't seem to get that pesky Satan to stop crushing my spirit. He is good at it, because he has tons of practice. I am sure he is well practiced on you, too, my friend.
Sometimes as a pastor's wife, I say Satan is that much worse, because let's be honest, there is a bullseye on your family's back when your husband faithfully preaches the Law and Gospel to souls.
And then, getting pastoral care from the man who knows your every fault can be intimidating. I sinfully shun it at times.
But today my pastor husband came home with the letter below.
Thanks be to God for faithful shepherds to soothe a sinner's heart.
I share it here for my own benefit, as I will be able to read it in moments when I need it.
I share it here for your benefit, as you can fill it in with your children and be reminded of Christ's work through you.
I will be honest, though. It doesn't mean your life will be better. Satan will keep attacking you. Life will continue to be hard. But in that, know that I am praying for you, all Christian mothers, that you may be filled with joy in your blessings, given comfort in your repentance of sins, and strengthened to stand firm against the darts of Satan (while knowing they were already thrown at and destroyed by Jesus for you).
To my wife, the mother of our children:
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)
Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy! (Psalm 126:5)
The wicked earns deceptive wages, but one who sows righteousness gets a sure reward. (Proverbs 11:18)
It is so very easy to grow weary in doing good, especially because we think we don’t see results. We too often sow and desire to reap in an hour, a day, or a week. However, Scripture uses these terms wisely and for our encouragement. We are called to be patient like a farmer. As seeds take time to sprout, so the good that we sow to those around often takes time to give testimony. Sometimes, we won’t see them at all, but that doesn’t make God unfaithful to His Word.
Meanwhile, the devil calls us to impatience and weariness. He magnifies our sins and judges us harshly. He weighs us down with despair and unbelief that God could use such a sinner as I to bless others. While it is indeed a work of the Holy Spirit to convict us of our sin, it is the work of the devil for us to be convinced that God wants to stop there. We grow in love of others by growing in the knowledge and peace that He first loved us. We begin to understand what it means that Jesus died for our sins by becoming increasingly aware of how many sins we actually commit in thought, word, and deed. It seems ironic, but is true, that we are made holy by becoming more sensitive to the depth, not the shallowness, of the accusations of the holy Ten Commands.
Jesus doesn’t want you to grow weary and become burdened so that you stay weary and burdened. He calls you to come to Him for rest – true rest of conscience and peace with God and man. He is gentle with you. Learn from Him. He has borne the yoke of your sin and then gives you His yoke – love one another as I have loved you.
I desire for you to begin to see the love that Christ has shown to our children through you. Through Him, you have sowed (sometimes in tears!), and in Him there has been true, visible results – a wonderful reaping. Consider only some of the results shown since your 2015 birthday:
Solomon has completed a second year of attending Classical Conversations (and he is only 5 years old!). He has learned countless (!) songs by heart that have taught and will continue to teach him about God’s gracious hand in history, science, math, and language. This, his second year, was his first year without you in the room. He showed respect and love for his teacher – who adores him. He learned, listened, gave speeches (often without much preparation…let’s be honest!), and showed kindness all on his own. Because you gave him this opportunity to be a student by himself, you also learned that he sometimes sins against his teacher and classmates even when that teacher isn’t his mother and his classmate isn’t his brother.
Solomon has grown in both attitude and aptitude in reading, writing, and math. He completed his 100th reading lesson with you. Can you reflect on the aptitude and attitude of lesson 1 and begin to see that God is faithful to His promises – you sowed in tears and now are reaping with joy, though I’m not discounting that you continue to sow in tears at times! His desire to read grows stronger every month. He asks about signs on the road, on walks and parks, and on titles of books.
He expresses himself better, is more self-controlled, sleeps better, gets dressed quicker, is able to handle small chores, entertains himself longer, and has grown in playing with his brother. He applies knowledge learned in school, library books read by you, from random play, and watching Daniel Tiger to real life situations.
Most importantly, he has repented of his sins countless times and received absolution both from God and from others. He prays on his own, knows more of the Bible, has memorized more hymns, more parts of the liturgy, and now freely asks very difficult questions about his God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Henry has completed his first year of Classical Conversations. He has learned countless (!) songs by heart that have taught and will continue to teach him about God’s gracious hand in history, science, math, and language. He was introduced to public speaking (at the age of 4!) and at times showed amazing aptitude in it (remember the Christmas program at church?). Can you begin to see that God is faithful to his promises that those who sow in tears will reap in joy? He grew in friendship and playing with others.
He was given the greatest gift he never asked for when God gave him another new baby sister. He loves, laughs, and cares for her so intently partly because he models your love, laughter, and care. He applies knowledge learned in school, library books read by you, from random play, and watching Daniel Tiger to real life situations.
He is an amazing builder of Lincoln Logs and Tinker Toys – all new from Christmas 2015. He speaks clearer, counts better, recognizes and creates patterns, knows much of the alphabet and their phonetic sounds and can actually read some whole sentences! He sleeps better, falls asleep on his own easier, gets dressed on his own, and continues to learn to control his crazy emotions that God gave him through you and me.
Most importantly, he has repented of his sins countless times and received absolution both from God and from others. He prays for others, knows more of the Bible, has memorized more hymns, and more parts of the liturgy.
Dorothea has recently exploded in her ability to express herself. She has an immense vocabulary and realizes that because she is loved by mom and dad, she can speak freely about everything. She has learned so much simply by being present in situations where teaching, reading, and singing has occurred. She has learned countless (!) songs by heart that have taught and will continue to teach her about God’s gracious hand in history, science, math, and language.
She now consistently plays by herself and with others. She has begun to learn what she loves and has been encouraged to grow in that (“Mommy, can I color?”). She sleeps in a big girl bed, shares a bedroom with her baby sister, and actually sleeps very well. She wears 3T clothes that were gathered and organized by you (Thank God for the gift of clothes from others and for the countless hours spent by you organizing all of our children’s clothes!). She eats incredibly well without much complaint.
Most importantly, she has repented of her sins countless times and received absolution both from God and from others. She prays, blesses, knows more of the Bible, has memorized more hymns, and more parts of the liturgy.
One year ago, Josephine was still being created and formed by her Heavenly Father in your womb. Josephine has been birthed and also been given the gift of new birth by Water and the Spirit.
She now crawls, laughs, eats solid food, shows love and is receptive of love. She expects comfort because she has received so much comfort. She now sleeps in a crib and sleeps relatively well (says I in ignorance!)
Before the age of 1, our little Josephine has heard in her ears and soul countless confessions of sin from her father, mother, and siblings and countless absolutions from God and to each other. She has heard so many prayers, so many blessings, so much of the Word of God, so many hymns, and so many parts of the liturgy. She sings, she folds her hands, and she crosses herself.
So, God is faithful to His promises. You have sown in doing good and because of His grace, you can begin to see the good reaping. Don’t grow weary. Keep commending yourself and children to God with the patience of a farmer. You have received rewards here in time and are promised even greater rewards in eternity.
There is still more love to grow in. Your faith and hope constantly need to be strengthened by the healing Words and Sacrament of our Savior. The holy Ten Commands will continually be calling for us to fulfill them, so take heart in this, one of your fathers in the faith – “All God’s commandments are fulfilled when whatever is not done, is forgiven” (St. Augustine).