Years ago, I spent months working on a book proposal. Various friends then spent weeks helping me to edit it. And then it was rejected by more publishers than I care to recount. Since then, it has remained tucked away in the depths of my computer files— and, if it were possible, collecting dust.
One of the hardest things about writing is when something that you write isn’t used. When I spend hours crafting just the right sentence, when I’ve woven my heart and soul into each paragraph of a work, and it is never read, it makes all the time, effort, and energy seem like a waste. It’s disheartening and discouraging.
But writing isn’t the only thing I put energy into that no one sees. Countless things that I work on throughout the day go unnoticed by those around me. The laundry that I fold and put away. The items that I pick up off the floor and return to their rightful places. The time and effort that I pour into my children’s hearts and spiritual growth. My intercessory prayers for God to be at work in them. Decisions and choices that I make for the benefit of those around me. The time and effort that I sacrifice in order to serve and provide. When I don’t see the fruit of that work, sometimes I grow weary and wonder, Is it worth it?
Motherhood is filled with repetitive duties: changing diapers, making lunches, teaching and re-teaching our children the same lessons. Not to mention taking our kids to the pediatrician, making sure they have clothes and shoes that fit for their first day back at school, and keeping track of who needs to go where and when. It’s hard to clean up a mess of toys and know that we’ll just have to do it again in a few hours. It’s often disheartening to know that the discussions we have with our children about kindness and sharing with others will have to be reviewed again and again before they sink in. Sometimes we get to the end of a day and feel like nothing of significance has been accomplished. We’ve worked hard—but what do we have to show for it?
Here’s an important truth to remember: God sees our labors on behalf of our children and family. He never misses our efforts or takes them for granted. He knows all the mundane tasks and repeated duties we have performed. And when we labor for him, he is glorified. That’s because we were created for a purpose: to glorify God and enjoy him forever, as the Westminster Catechisms tell us. This is what we are called to do, in all things big and small—in the important and the seemingly unimportant. “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Cor. 10:31)
All our work—whether we leave the house in the morning to go to work or work out of an office in our home or stay home to care for our children—is done for God’s glory and fame, not our own. It’s done not for the praise or accolades of our boss or our children but for the sake of our Savior. Our hearts’ posture is for Christ to be known—not ourselves. We want his name to be magnified throughout the earth—not our names. When our work goes unnoticed, when our children seem indifferent to our labors on their behalf, when we do the same mind-numbing tasks over and over and wonder why it even matters, we need to remember for whom we toil. We live to honor and magnify the One who made us and saved us.
All our work matters to God.
A Gospel Prayer for the Work of Motherhood
Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. (1 Cor. 15:58)
Father in heaven,
I come to you, in prayer, exhausted from my labors. I don’t even know what I have accomplished. I know that I met my children’s needs. I know that I labored on behalf of my family. I know that I checked a few things off my to-do list—but then a few more things were added, too. But some days, my work for my children and family seems so monotonous. I repeat the same instructions over and over. I intervene in the same squabbles. I do the same task that I know I’ll have do again before the day is done. It’s hard to think that this work matters—that my efforts make a difference.
But then I remember that you see all things. You know all things. You see and know all my labors—the big and small. Forgive me for forgetting that. Forgive me for living as though I work for the praise and affirmation of others, rather than for you and your glory. Forgive me for wanting to be seen by others rather than rejoicing that I am known and seen by the Maker of the universe.
I thank you for the work that Jesus did on my behalf. I thank you that all his work redeems my work and makes it holy. I thank you that you look at me and see Jesus’s perfect life. I thank you for the Spirit’s work in me that makes me more like Christ.
Help me each day as I nurture, teach, disciple, and care for the eternal souls you have given me. Help me to work hard. Help me to labor for your honor and praise. Help me to reflect you in my labors to my children and to others who see me. Help me not to grow discouraged or to give up in my labors. I pray that you would use my work to bear rich fruit for your kingdom. Strengthen and sustain me by your grace.
In Jesus’s name, amen.
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