Even a faithful, experienced pastor can struggle to know what to say or do when suffering touches his family. For the pastor seeking to lead his wife through a difficult season of motherhood with gospel hope and comfort, here are six ways my husband—by God’s grace—has cared for me.

As a mum, I expected some runny noses, lots of diaper changes, a few tantrums, and fatigue at the end of the day. But when doctors diagnosed three of my five children with Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency, a genetic condition that can impact the liver in childhood and the liver or lungs over time, my world turned upside down. There were so many uncertainties and questions, temptations, and fears.

Additional diagnoses followed, and a miscarriage put me in the hospital. Through it all, my husband Scott walked by my side. I’m so grateful for how the Lord continues to use him to pastor me through the unexpected sorrows of motherhood.

Gospel hope and comfort for the sorrows of motherhood

Motherhood is a wonderful and godly calling, but it also brings a particular kind of suffering. As much as we love our children, we grieve when our bodies and our children’s bodies don’t work the way God originally intended (Genesis 3), whether it’s a miscarriage, secondary infertility, postpartum depression, or a child’s medical diagnosis. A mother’s heart aches when her child struggles at school, rebels at home, or walks away from the Lord. When we experience the sorrows of motherhood, we need gospel hope and biblical comfort—and so do the women in our churches.

Gospel hope is more than well wishes for favorable outcomes. It’s rooted in the past, present, and future faithfulness of God, who keeps all his promises in Jesus (2 Corinthians 1:20). Remember, our greatest problem was sin, and our greatest need was forgiveness and rescue. God dealt with that problem and met that need at the cross. Now, nothing”will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:39)—not even our parenting trials. Gospel hope assures us that God is greater than whatever we’re going through (Jeremiah 10:6); he is still good (Psalm 100:5); he is working for good (Romans 8:28), and we can trust him (Hebrews 6:18).

Similarly, in our motherhood sorrows, we need something more than sympathy. While sympathy is a good starting point, biblical comfort goes deeper. It strengthens and encourages. It sustains and supports us through our pain and points us to Christ.

Pastors bear the responsibility and privilege of bringing this gospel hope and biblical comfort to many people, including their wives, when they walk the more precarious paths of motherhood. This is weighty, but the Lord is ready to strengthen and help them (Isaiah 41:10).

Six ways pastors can care for their wives when motherhood is hard

Even a faithful, experienced pastor can struggle to know what to say or do when suffering touches his family. For the pastor seeking to lead his wife through a difficult season of motherhood with gospel hope and comfort, here are six ways my husband—by God’s grace—has cared for me:

1. Listen to your wifeGalatians 6:2 says, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” But how can a husband do this unless he first listens to his wife and invites her to share her burdens? Even though Scott already carries so much as a pastor, he patiently draws me out by asking questions. He takes extended time to listen, understand, and help me process our family’s challenges. This makes me feel loved and cared for, and I’m more willing to listen when he shares biblical truth.

2. Pray with your wifeScripture exhorts us to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17), and my husband faithfully prays with me and for me and the children. Early in our marriage, we began the habit of praying together every night before bed, sharing what was going on and then bringing our concerns to the Lord. This continues to be a tremendous means of grace to me, especially when motherhood is challenging.

3. Recognise your limitations and get help when needed. Scott has been my faithful and loyal counsellor on our family’s hardest days, but he’s also shown humility in recognising his limitations and saying, “We need counsel beyond mine.” While a pastor, he’s also my husband and father to our kids, and when trials touch close to home, we seek biblical counsel together. “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5), and we’ve always received help when we humble ourselves this way.

4. Show up for your familyThis might sound basic, but a busy pastoral schedule can require intentionality and planning. However, when Scott attends certain medical appointments or picks up medications at the chemist, it communicates, “We’re in this together.” When a pastor shows up for his family—physically and emotionally—he models our heavenly Father who “goes with” us and promises never to leave or forsake his people (Deuteronomy 31:6).

5. Lead gently, but keep leading your wifeOur kids’ diagnoses bring complexity to Scott’s and my family life, but they don’t change our kingdom-minded priorities (Matthew 6:33). Though we feel our limitations and set boundaries, we don’t live in our shells. We keep going to church, giving financially, and practicing hospitality. For a season, we had to carry medical letters in our glove compartment, and my husband mapped out every paediatric emergency room between New Jersey and South Carolina, but we kept making the yearly trip to visit extended family.

6. Remember your wife. Years ago, my mother-in-law told me the story of Scott’s sister Ruth. When Ruth was born, there were multiple health issues, and she lived only a short time. My father-in-law, also a pastor, comforted his wife by giving her a single rose in memory of Ruth each year. In remembering Ruth, he also remembered his wife. Not only is this a beautiful example of the many creative, tender ways a husband can show loving sensitivity and support to his wife, but it’s another way a husband models God, who remembers his people when they suffer (examples of Noah, Genesis 8:1; Israel, Genesis 2:24; Hannah, I Samuel 1:20; and many more).

A word to pastors’ wives

For the pastor’s wife who doesn’t feel her husband’s care, don’t assume that just because he’s a pastor, he can read your aching heart. It’s much better to go to him than to let resentment grow. You may need to say something like, “I can’t bear this alone. I need you. Please help me.” If he still doesn’t get it, it’s probably time to involve someone who can help him understand how your motherhood trial is impacting your family. It should be someone he will listen to, and if it doesn’t lead to anything the first time, you might have to pursue it again.

However wonderful our husbands are, though, there is “a man of sorrows” who is “acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3). Jesus understands better than anyone else, and he walks with us on our hard motherhood roads. Ultimately, he is our hope and comfort:

“Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word” (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17).

© Katie Faris. Used with permission. Originally published at focusonthefamily.com.

Katie Faris

Katie Faris is a pastor’s wife and mother of five living in New Jersey. She is the author of God Is Still Good: Gospel Hope & Comfort for the Unexpected Sorrows of Motherhood. Learn more at katiefaris.com

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