There are a few things that I count as deep and lasting privileges in this life, but the honor of being able to nurture a growing little person, both in the womb and later in the world, this is the kind of thing that makes a lifelong imprint. If you are a woman who has not or cannot have children, please keep reading! The truth of this article is for each of us.
That moment when a woman realizes that she is indeed pregnant, the shock and realization that the clock has started ticking towards birth, and a child in her womb is developing every moment and might have her eyes or their papa’s nose, her laugh or his funny walk—this realization can produce any number of reactions!
We tend to do a very good job of preparing for a baby’s arrival, making sure we have everything in place for those first days and weeks. Isn’t it funny, that as we prepare for the birth of our baby, we might actually miss investing time and prayer into the fact that we will be nurturing this child for life! Women, let us think on the bigger picture: the lifelong privilege of investing in children for the glory of God.
Whether or not you have borne children, every woman is called to be a life-giving nurturer.
The act of being a life-giving woman stems back to the very beginning, when, “The man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living” (Gen. 3:20). Presumably, Eve was given her name before she herself became a mother. What a thought! God wills for all woman to be such life-givers, whether or not their own wombs are able to physically bear children. How is this possible?
Celebrate new life
As we follow in Eve’s footsteps, we can quite simply celebrate new life. The name given to Eve means to “breathe, live, or give life.” A new life is, in King David’s words, “… knitted together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Ps. 139:13). This world instructs us to do whatever feels right and good, and if that means we don’t want a child now or choose to have an abortion, then so be it. My body, my choice, right? Not according to God. He expertly knits together and forms babies in the womb and that little body is its own beautiful little person. We know from history that when “everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (repeated 7 times in the book of Judges, as well as Prov. 12:15), it was a horrible time in history where chaos and sin reigned. Women, may we choose to honor life in the womb, both for ourselves and others for the glory of God.
Weep with those who weep
Honoring life can also mean walking alongside or caring for mothers who have had abortions or lost a child. “Can a mother forget her nursing child? Can she feel no love for the child she has borne” (Isa. 49:15)? Whether she realizes it or not, a woman who has had an abortion or a miscarriage is a mother. I have personally experienced a miscarriage and will always remember those days of shock, grief, bleeding, and even now wondering what that little person would be like if they had lived. Women, let us pray together, cry together, and know that those little children are in God’s sovereign and good hands. We are called to “carry one another’s burdens” (Gal. 6:2), and what a privilege it is to walk this path together.
Whether or not you have borne children, every woman is called to be a life-giving nurturer. We might not consider ourselves as “older women,” but in the eyes of a child (yes, I have heard this many times from my own children) every adult is old. Let us open our eyes and look around to see how we can bless our church family by nurturing the younger, by getting involved in leading Sunday school, helping in youth group, encouraging a mom with her hands full, and actively exhorting the children and youth to know and walk with the Lord.
From the time they are beginning to walk, the world will try to pull our children’s heart and attention away from the Lord, and we, the church, need to stand together! In past generations, grandparents and extended family often lived nearby and could impart moral instruction to their families, but in our modern individualistic Nordic lives we need the spiritual nurturing from the church all the more. The well-known verse in Proverbs is not a promise but a moral encouragement when it says, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6). Women, be life-givers by nurturing and pointing to Christ to those younger than you, as physical mothers AND as spiritual mothers.
We do not walk alone
Finally, let us remember that life-giving is not an easy task—caring for children will be challenging! We will not always know which choices are best while sleep training, selecting healthy foods, or dealing with temper tantrums, but one thing is clear: It is our joy to nurture children to know and walk with the Lord. Let us not give over this privilege hoping the state or institutions will do it, because they will surely fail to raise them with the love and biblical conviction only a mother can provide. A job can always be returned to later, but a baby will soon grow into a child. If you have not trained them to listen and learn from you by then, in many ways you may have already lost their ear. To be life-givers and nurturers, we must be present to do the nurturing! It is hard, but we may be encouraged by the promise of our God through the prophet Isaiah, “As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you” (Isa. 66:13). Women, let us comfort and nurture the small people in our lives, and let us be comforted by God that he will faithfully walk with us in this task.