“You’ve got this” is a popular encouragement for moms. But what’s behind it?
If it’s the belief that I naturally have what it takes to keep my children alive, help them flourish, and even see them come to Christ without completely losing my mind in the process—then I definitely don’t “have this.” Not on my own.
Yet, how often do we mother from our own strength and resolve? In other words, how often do we forget that Jesus serves us far beyond our initial conversion? In Dane Ortlund’s words, “He does not forgive us through his work on the cross and then hope we make it the rest of the way.” No, Jesus is committed to achieving his heavenly goal for us, carrying us all the way home.
The Son of God refuses to leave us to our own strength and devices. If he did, we wouldn’t make it. There are too many heart obstacles from within to trip us up and evil maneuvers from without to bring us down. The most opportune, blessed position you can be in today, mom, is dependence on the Son of God, your elder brother, as he intercedes for you before his Father and your Father.
Take this in, mom: Jesus is praying for you right now.
Three Things Jesus Is Praying
What exactly is he praying for you? Let’s look at his prayer in John 17 to find at least three answers.
1. Protect them from evil.
“I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.”John 17:15
When Jesus says “the world” here, he means our present reality, an earthly kingdom still under the shadow of darkness because it rejects God’s Son (John 1:10) and loves what is evil (John 3:19). The world, the devil, and our flesh are a combination strong enough to derail anyone from reaching the glory of resurrected life on her own—but Jesus is stronger.
He defeats the darkness and overcomes the world (John 16:33). He destroys the works of the devil (1 John 3:8). He sets enslaved sinners free and gives his Spirit so we have power against the flesh (John 8:36).
Through Christ we have the ability to say no to sin (Rom. 6:14). We belong to Jesus now, and we serve him. That makes all the difference when our kid is driving us nuts, we can feel our blood boiling, and we’re on the brink of losing it. Jesus is praying that we’ll resist the evil one’s temptations and live according to who we are in Christ.
And when we fail (Matt. 26:41), “we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1). Before the Father, he sympathetically pleads his forgiving, cleansing blood over all his peoples’ particular sins. Nothing is too shameful or awful to bring before the Father when Christ is our advocate, for his blood has won our forgiveness (1 John 1:7, 9). Advocating for you is his delight.
2. Make them holy.
“Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.”John 17:17
Jesus also prays for our sanctification. Notice the connection between God’s Word and his work in us: the more we steep ourselves in the Word of Christ, the more we’ll become like him.
Because Jesus prays for us, we’re enabled to say yes to what’s right and best. As we listen to him and obey him, we’ll know more of his joy and peace. (Sounds a lot like what we teach our kids!) We will also grow to love what he loves as we raise our children, prioritizing his Word, loving our littlest neighbors, and praying for them since we know he hears us and intercedes.
Jesus has his heart set on transforming ours. He’s taking all that’s been broken and marred by sin and, using the tool of his Word by the handiwork of his Spirit, he is remolding us and making us reflections of his beauty: “I am glorified in them” (John 17:10).
3. May they know my love.
“I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”John 17:26
Jesus is also praying that we’ll know his love. Not just that we’ll know some things about his love, but that we’ll be touched in our hearts with an experience of his deep care for us, that we might “comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth” of Christ’s love and “be filled with all the fullness of God” (Eph. 3:18, 19).
Though a mother’s love is deep, we don’t have what it takes to meet our children’s greatest need. But when a humble mom’s heart is filled by Jesus’s love, brimming forth to overflowing, our children can see and experience the enduring affection Christ has for us and for them. “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).
So no, mom—you don’t “have this.” But since Jesus does, you can take a deep breath. You can receive his prayers, and by his grace, you can persevere in the work he’s called you to do, until the day he carries you all the way home.
This article originally appeared on The Gospel Coalition and is an excerpt from my book Humble Moms: How the Work of Christ Sustains the Work of Motherhood.