As I was considering which woman to dwell on next, my thoughts came to the book of the Psalms. I searched and hunted for a woman to study. I couldn't find any.
I started to look a bit harder, and I found references of a more general nature, which spoke to me.
Several times we read of things pertaining to women and child-bearing, and the womb.
It's a pesky thing, the womb. It usually holds a monthly cycle of inconvenience at best, and pain at worst.
It's an organ that is unique to womankind, yet can hold pain, sorrow, emptiness, sadness, fullness, and such great joy.
The "woman" I found in the Psalms is a multi-faceted woman.
The "woman" in grief.
The "woman" in pain.
The "woman" in joy.
The "woman" blessed.
The beginning of the journey of motherhood is found in Psalm 1113:9.
"He maketh the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children."
Children are from God. To think their conception is simply dependent upon your choice, or some random act of nature, pays a disservice to our great Creator. It is God - that sovereign, all-wise, and kind one - who decides whether a woman should have her womb filled, or not. He is able to send that gift to even the one who seems "barren" - unable to conceive. For many of us who are able to conceive so easily, we must never forget that nothing is taken for granted, and God alone is the author of life. My heart aches for those who would love children, and have not had any. Does this mean that God loves them any less? Not at all. It means that God, in His wisdom, has not given them a child. They are not sub-standard, failures or insignificant. They simply haven't been blessed in that particular way. It's beyond our understanding, but God knows - that is all that matters. I KNOW it's easy for me to say, with 8 precious children - but, I am the first to acknowledge that the children I have are all of God, and nothing of me. If you are a woman who has no children, yet would love them, I pray that the Lord would bless you. I pray that that Lord would give you acceptance in His sovereignty. I pray that you would be filled by His peace, so that no matter what the future holds, you rest in His perfect will.
The next verse is referring to what else can happen, in God's sovereignty. It's something I am ever aware of, and I struggle not to be anxious about. It's a verse that is so solemn. It's something that is used as a simile, regarding the punishment of the wicked.
"like the untimely birth of a woman, that they may not see the sun"
The Bible talks about premature birth.
The Psalmist sees it as something dreadful, that he should compare it to an untimely death for his enemies. It's a shocking verse, really.
Shocking, but serious.
The pain in the heart of a mother, when her child dies in an "untimely" way, is heartbreaking. Once again, I feel unqualified to speak of this, as I have never been through a miscarriage or premature birth, or a stillbirth. I do know, from the experience of others, that it is a heartbreaking and sorrow filled experience. A life, so wanted and hoped for, over before it's "begun". A child, longed-for, and loved from conception, ended before birth. Such sorrow, because of such expectation and love. When a child is wanted, and when a child is seen as a gift from GOD, when that precious life ends, a mother's heart is grieved, so very deeply. You can understand why the Psalmist compares it as a painful thing for his enemies. Because it is. It's a painful thing. Yet, once again, we must remember that God is sovereign. His ways are past finding out. He knows the end from the beginning. We must trust in Him at all times. If you are hurting over the loss of a precious babe, my heart aches for you, and I pray you will know God's comfort.
The next verse is precious. A reminder that God is creator. That God is a WONDERFUL creator.
"thou hast covered me in my mother's womb.
I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made:"
I actually love the wording in other Bile verses for this one. He KNITS us together in our mother's womb. Woven together. Intricately created. Fearfully and wonderfully made. The process, from conception to birth, is TRULY wonderful. Man cannot mimic it artificially. He cannot explain it. It simply can't be done without a man and woman, as God intended.
Then, as that baby goes from multiplying, united cells, to growing baby, the wonder continues. We live in a generation where we have SO much knowledge about this. We can look into the very womb as a baby grows, seeing the development, stage by stage. You cannot help but simply say "wow".
God. Again. All God.
Incredible, as a baby relies upon the life-blood of its mother - growing every day - in preparation for birth. Incredible. We are wonderfully made.
The next is another simile, and speaks of the next stage.
"Fear took hold upon them there, and pain, as of a woman in travail."
This are the enemies of the Psalmist, again.
They are experiencing pain, like a woman in labour!
Pain. Ohhhhhh yes. How much pain they must have been in, because labour IS painful. Well, mine are, anyway.
The one thing not mentioned is a key element of pain in labour.
It has its reward.
Yes, we suffer pain for a time, but we have a BABY at the end of it! It's what gets me through labour EVERY SINGLE TIME. The knowledge that this precious gift from God is MINE to hold, once labour is over. God. Sovereign. Great. Good. Generous. HE has given the reward of our travail.
The Psalmist mentions fear, too. This is also something that so many women can experience IN labour. I used to fear it greatly. I feared the pain, and I feared the concept of another child to care for. God is a God who provides ALL our needs, however. I learned to TRUST Him, and to rest upon Him. To know that He was bale to keep me, and give me the peace and strength to endure the pains of labour, and the challenges of parenting. With my last baby I got to the point of anticipation, and embracing the pain - fully resting in God, and His sovereignty, and His power. It resulted in a transformed birthing experience, for which I am so very thankful.
The ability to work with it, and through it? YES!
If God can heal the sick, raise the dead, send plagues, forgive my sin, He can give me all I need to get through child birth!
The last two verses are on the same theme.
"Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house: thy children like olive plants round about thy table."
"Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward."
Children are a positive thing! They aren't something to be endured. They aren't some "necessity" that you must have, because you feel REQUIRED to do so - the whole "heir and spare" concept. In Psalm 128 a wife who is blessed with children, as a "fruitful vine", is a reward and commendation. If you had a fruitful vine, how much would you expect it to yield? An abundance! God desires to bless us ABUNDANTLY.
You see, also, in Psalm 127, that the man that has many children is happy! The one who looks to the Lord to build the house, and has his quiver full, is blessed and happy. What a precious thing to consider. Children shouldn't be a chore. They shouldn't be a burden. They should be seen as what they are - a GIFT from GOD!
That's not to say it's not always EASY, this road of motherhood. There are trials from conception, to the grave. As far as I can tell, the concerns of a mother only die when she does. It's not easy, but it's a path that is blessed, and is all of our sovereign and kind God.
There we have it. The journey of motherhood, through the Psalms. Fascinating. Heart-breaking. Joyful. Blessed. SO much, in so few verses.
I don't know what lies ahead for me. I'm 37. I have things going on that are new for me. I don't take anything for granted. I could have more children. I could have miscarriages and heartaches. I may not have any more children. I do know that my sovereign Heavenly Father has it in HIS hands.
Wherever you are in the journey of motherhood, I pray that God would be your portion, today and every day, as you rest in His sovereignty and goodness.