Man was created first, and then woman was created from him to be his helper. She wasn’t a helper in the sense of being less valuable than Adam; rather, he needed help—it wasn’t good for him to be alone. On his own, he was missing something in his ability to live out God’s instructions. There would be no good work or future generations without woman. Eve would be a complementary image-bearer with equal value, but as a female, she imaged God in different ways than Adam did.
In the original language, Eve’s name sounds like “life.” The account in Genesis says, “The man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living. And right there, in the third chapter of the Bible, we find the concept of motherhood.
The word “mother” has multiple layers of meaning. Eve had the potential to be a biological mother, but she also represented a spiritual purpose all women can relate to: to invest in and nurture the family of God as life-givers. In the context of the whole Bible, spiritual mothers play essential roles in the redemptive story. We see them passing on God’s promises to future generations, boldly protecting the lineage of God’s people, training and discipling those around them, heralding the good news, and more.
God’s physical design for Eve tells us something about his purpose for motherhood.
Eve had a womb—a perfect environment for growing a child until he or she entered the world. After birth, Eve could feed the baby with a perfect cocktail of nutrients in her breast milk. A baby could be nurtured by her bosom, have skin-to-skin contact, and experience necessary physical love at least every few hours for the first years of life. Because filling the earth was a part of God’s instructions for Adam and Eve, this pattern likely would have repeated itself many times. Bearing and raising children would have impacted her rhythms of work and how her days were ordered and filled.
There is a spiritual design to motherhood as well.
Throughout the rest of Scripture, we see moms are essential to the spiritual upbringing and formation of their children’s character. Together, moms and dads are tasked with teaching children the redemptive story along with God’s character and law. Parents should train their children in wisdom (discerning right from wrong) and faithfully discipline with love and self-control. All of this is done with the hope of seeing their children walk in righteousness. Myriads of books are available about the ins and outs and practical how-tos for today, but overall, a mother is meant to model God’s love, instruction, and discipline for her children.
This gets to the heart of motherhood: God’s design, both physically and spiritually, reflects the heart of the greatest Life Giver to the world.
He is the ultimate Creator of life, the ultimate nurturer and provider, and the compassionate, gentle one who supplies our needs when—like our own babies—our only capacity is to cry for help. God’s love for his people is compared to the fierce, protective compassion a nursing mother has for her own helpless child. This is how he cares for us! As a mother shows mercy to her helpless child, he shows mercy to helpless people. God also lovingly trains and disciplines us as his children, making us more into the likeness of Jesus.
What does this design for motherhood mean to us when we’re struggling?
First, it moves our heart’s desire for satisfaction from “how we mother” to finding it in God, the true Life Giver and Helper. Second, it doesn’t allow us to just lower the bar or brush past God’s design. Instead it compels us to understand why we struggle and where we find hope. It bids us to keep walking through the narrative of the gospel to see God’s good news for hurting moms.
The above excerpt is from Risen Motherhood by Laura Wifler and Emily Jensen. Learn how the gospel connects with your everyday moments of motherhood. Tackling real life topics like postpartum body image, food choices, marriage, traditions, and school choices, Emily and Laura will help you discover that the gospel really does change everything.
Coming early next month, the Risen Motherhood book has a new BFF, the Risen Motherhood Guided Journal. This companion to the best-selling Risen Motherhood book provides moms with a beautifully decorated space to answer discussion questions, apply each chapter’s teaching to their own lives, and record their thoughts and prayers. You can preorder your copy today by using the link above.