I sat perched on the stairs, halfway between the main level and upstairs. One child sat on the upstairs toilet while the other sat downstairs. From here, I could hear and see them both. I held the third child, a 10-month-old, tightly in my arms. His curiosity and mobility were more hazardous than helpful while I potty-trained his two older siblings.
I spent more time than I care to admit resting on those steps, potty-training twins with a baby in tow. I had mentally prepared for months (read: procrastinated), and when we started, I was determined to be diaper-free by Monday. Oh, how little I knew! By the end of day one, I held back tears while I texted my sister to come help. I didn’t know if I could clean up one more accident or run up and down those stairs one more time. I didn’t know how in the world my kids would ever graduate from diapers. I didn’t know if I was doing it right or if I chose the correct method in the first place. I did know that I hurt my family by taking my frustration out on them, but I couldn't seem to pull it together. I felt tired, weak, and discouraged—and I ran out of carpet cleaner.
Little by little, motherhood peels away my confidence in my competence. I grow frustrated when I can’t be everything my kids need. I’m annoyed when my body needs to rest. I hesitate to ask for help. I hate the ever-present feeling that I have no idea what I’m doing. Whether it’s a (relatively) benign situation like potty-training or much heavier heartache, I struggle to admit my need.
In Isaiah, we read about Sennacherib, King of Assyria, invading Judah. Assyrians came to Jerusalem to convince King Hezekiah to surrender. The Assyrians tried to persuade the people that the LORD would never be able to deliver them, and they should in no way trust Hezekiah if he told them otherwise.
Hezekiah mourned. He tore his clothes and put on sackcloth. He said, “This day is a day of distress, of rebuke, and of disgrace; children have come to the point of birth, and there is no strength to bring them forth” (Is. 37:3). The moment of crisis, the moment when strength, leadership, power, and all that a king should provide had arrived.
If anyone demonstrated neediness and incompetence, it was Hezekiah. He lacked resources, strength, and power to do what needed to be done. But his neediness proved to be a gift that turned him to call on Yahweh, and Yahweh showed himself faithful. Not only did Yahweh deliver Judah from Assyria, but through the rescued nation he provided for their ultimate need and heir to the throne, the Messiah. God used Hezekiah's weaknesses to push him to his knees and bring about his greater kingdom purposes in the world. By his grace, he uses our weaknesses, too, reminding us to call on him and exposing our deepest need for a Messiah.
The battles we face in our parenting may not look as dramatic as Hezekiah’s story. But every day, we wage war against the evil one who, like Sennacherib, tries to defame the name of our God and convince us to surrender. He wants us to believe that we don’t need Yahweh, or our God isn’t strong enough to sustain us. He tells us the battles are too hard or what he offers is too good. He’s well-versed in his lies and persuasive in the telling. He’s been doing it since the beginning.
Our God does not seduce us with empty promises. He calls us his children and promises an inheritance that will never perish, spoil, or fade. He sees us when potty-training feels impossible, when we’re full of anxious thoughts, or when we watch our child suffer. He knows we are weak and powerless, but he also tells us we can come to him every time crying, “Abba! Father!” Even when he appears silent or answers us in unexpected ways, we can look back at Hezekiah, at our own lives, at the scriptures, at the cross, and remember his faithfulness. “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Rom. 8:32).
Sisters, we worship the same God who delivered Judah from the Assyrians, the same God who redeemed us through the death and resurrection of Jesus. He is the God who sustains us in daily exhaustion and extraordinary grief. Our role is to turn away from the seductive lies of the evil one and turn toward our good, gracious, and generous Father.
Like King Hezekiah, our neediness is not necessarily a vice. It’s a gift—one that pushes us to our knees and reminds us to cry out to our God. So, “Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful” (Heb. 10:23).
Rom. 8:18, 1 Pet. 1:4