Whose Strength?

Recently, this question was posed to me:

I have such an overwhelming desire to be a godly wife and mom. I want to serve my husband and children by providing a clean, cheery home, fresh laundry, and hearty, home-cooked meals. I desire to do this with a pleasant attitude and a meek and quiet spirit. BUT this is sooooooo far from reality!! I am consistently behind in all my housework and constantly struggling to stay on my schedule. It seems I either have a good attitude (and the house goes to pot), or I keep my chores done (and get snippy). I am praying for God to work through me and to make me the mom He desires. Yet I find it hard to distinguish between working as hard as I can while trusting God to make the change in me and pushing myself and pushing myself in my own strength. How can you tell the difference? A mom

I believe this is a common feeling among homeschooling moms. I have thought these thoughts and asked these questions myself. Of course the place we want to go for answers would be God’s Word. Does it offer any insights into this?

First, here is what God says about His role in our lives, particularly in our struggles.

“For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:30).

“And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

“For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13).

“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13).

Our desires to be godly wives and mothers, to make our homes a haven for our families, and to have meek and quiet spirits are God-given desires. Scripture tells us that His grace is sufficient for us and that we can do all things through Christ Who strengthens us.

Our schedules are tools we can use to enable us to accomplish what the Lord Jesus has called us to do. That means we are to use them with a good attitude. A clean house and a sweet disposition are not mutually exclusive. When we are short-tempered as we go through our day, we can be assured we are doing it in our own strength. We know this because we are told in Galatians 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”

When our spirits don’t exhibit the fruit of the Spirit, the Lord can use our awareness of this sin as a chastening. He wants us to learn and grow through these situations. “And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth . . . Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby” (Hebrews 12:5-6, 11).

Since God has called us to homeschool and keep up with our daily homemaking chores, our schedules are to be viewed as our helpers. The schedule needs to be prayerfully made up so that it allows time for each of the areas in which God has given us responsibility. If on a daily basis we are not keeping up in one or more areas, then we must go back to the Master and consult with Him. We know He doesn’t give us more to do than time to do it.

Perhaps the schedule is flushing out our own sinful tendencies. Maybe we are behind in housework and struggling to stay on a schedule because we stay up late at night and then don’t get up and going in the morning. It could be that we choose not to do what is on the schedule because we prefer to do other things. For example, the schedule may say it is time to do laundry, but that is my least favorite job. I decide to put it off, thinking I will make it up later. However, I don’t feel any more like doing the laundry at another time, so it ends up going undone. These are simply indications that my focus is on my own wants, desires, likes, and pleasures rather than on obedience to Jesus Christ.

We have to remember we are called to be sober, to love our husbands, to love our children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, and obedient to our own husbands (Titus 2:4-5). Therefore, our jobs as homeschooling moms and homemakers are acts of obedience to the Lord. When this is difficult for us, here is what we can read in Scripture that puts our battle with our failings into perspective: “Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin” (Hebrews 12:4).

God asks us to work hard. I think we can look at Paul’s life as an example of that. These verses show us his attitude toward the tasks that were before him. “Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway” (1 Corinthians 9:24-27).

Paul shows us that he had learned to run the race and strive for mastery while at the same time resting in the Lord. I believe these verses give us a clue as to how he accomplished this. “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed . . . For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9, 16-18). “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:2).

Here is the problem again, Yet I find it hard to distinguish between working as hard as I can while trusting God to make the change in me and pushing myself and pushing myself in my own strength. When we are obedient to the Lord with our focus on Him, we are not pushing in our own strength. Everything good we do is through Him. All of our irritation, negative responses, frustration, anger, worry, and strife is the outcome of pushing in our own strength for our own agenda.

Perhaps these two verses sum it up for us. “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14). May we see our service to our families as obedience to our Lord Jesus Christ and choose that obedience with a willing heart.