Fortitude for the “Fiery Ordeals” of Family

My mom was sitting in the hospital with my brother a few weeks after he was diagnosed with cancer when a doctor pulled her aside. He told her that his patients often attended their appointments alone, and he expressed how much it meant for her to be there. 

His comments caught her off guard. Of course she was there. She hadn’t considered not showing up for her son. “It’s what family does,” she told the doctor, but he just shook his head. 

“No,” he told her. “You’d be surprised how rare it is.” 

When the Next Thing Is Something More 

Taking care of their kids—isn’t that what moms do? As a mom, you take care of bruised knees and broken hearts, last-minute school projects and missing soccer cleats. You take care of the household, and you seemingly hold everything and everyone together.

You may be in a season where you’re a parent and, like my own mom, you’re also a caregiver. You may be balancing the responsibilities of motherhood in addition to the care of a child with disabilities, an elderly parent with dementia, or a grown kid with a complicated illness. Your plans for Mother’s Day weekend will likely revolve around their needs: 

  • On Saturday night, you’ll sleep in a chair in your child’s hospital room, or you’ll keep your phone beside your bed in case your father’s assisted living facility calls.
  • On Sunday morning, you’ll help feed your mother-in-law since she’s recovering from a stroke, or you’ll quiet your son when his sensory issues flare with breakfast.
  • On Sunday afternoon, you’ll do laundry for your adult daughter as she heals from surgery, or you’ll run errands for your own mother who can no longer take care of herself.

You’ll do the next thing, one task after another, because you can’t imagine not doing whatever you can for your family. You wouldn’t say you’re a caregiver by personality, and you’re not a medical professional. You just love your people the best you know how.

It’s not surprising for a mom to love her family. But as the doctor pointed out, sacrificial caregiving stands out. He might not have realized it, but he was getting a glimpse of something even greater than just a compassionate mother. In a mom who showed up for her son, he saw a reflection of the heart of God.

As a mom, when you first started teaching your children about the Lord, do you remember the first attribute of God you wanted them to know? They were too little for a lecture, so you likely wrapped them in your arms and sang the words you wanted them to grow up believing: “Jesus loves me, this I know . . .”

As soon as they could talk, as you helped them store Scripture in their heart and mind, you may have taught them truths like “God is love” (1 John 4:8) and “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son” (John 3:16). You may have led them to memorize verses that helped them apply God’s Word to their situations, verses like 1 Peter 5:7, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you."

Faith through the Fire

He cares. Those are two of the simplest words to communicate to a child, and two words moms frequently need to be reminded of for the sake of their own hearts. Have you ever considered how this truth and the rest of 1 Peter 5:7 applies to you as a caregiver? 

Grab your Bible—but before you turn to 1 Peter 5, flip back a chapter. In 1 Peter 4:12–19, Peter addressed the intense suffering the believers were beginning to experience—painful circumstances, a “fiery ordeal,” which tested the reality of their faith and their commitment to Christ. 

In 1 Peter 5, the focus moved from suffering to matters within the church. As one scholar noted, “The suffering and persecution faced by believers (4:12–19) [put] a strain on the entire community.”1 Both the leaders and the church community needed to know how to function appropriately. They were given instructions that could be applied to all seasons, but in the midst of the suffering they were facing, the commands took on increased urgency. 

As a caregiver, you’re not in the throes of persecution the way 1 Peter’s audience was, but you and your family are experiencing suffering. The instructions he gives are for you too: 

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your cares on him, because he cares about you. —1 Peter 5:6–7

“Humble yourselves, therefore” 

The “therefore” points back to 1 Peter 5:5. God lavishes His grace on those who are humble. Some say this verse is a call to intentionally lower yourself and acknowledge your need for God. Others say it’s a call to accept the circumstances that have humbled you, trusting that nothing happens apart from the sovereign authority of God. Both are an opportunity for you to surrender to the all-powerful God. When the challenges of motherhood seem overwhelming, will you humble yourself?

“Under the mighty hand of God, so that . . .

Location matters. You’re commanded to not humble yourself in general; you’re to humble yourself “under the mighty hand of God.” This description was associated with the deliverance that the all-powerful God accomplished when He rescued Israel out of Egypt: 

Has a god attempted to go and take a nation as his own out of another nation, by trials, signs, wonders, and war, by a strong hand and an outstretched arm, by great terrors, as the Lord your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes? —Deuteronomy 4:34

The same sovereign God who delivered His people from Egypt is fully able to exalt you, to lift you up, but note when He will do it: “at the proper time” (v. 6). 

“Casting all your cares on him” 

How are you to humble yourself? By throwing all of your worries—all of your anxieties about your circumstances, your family, and the future—on the Lord. You may have memorized this part of the verse a little differently. The niv translates it as a command, saying to “cast all your anxiety on him.” But the relationship between the main verb (“humble yourselves”) and the participle (“casting”) is important: 

The Greek text continues by means of a participle the sentence that began with verse 6. When we turn ourselves over to God in every situation of life, knowing that the One who led his people out of Egyptian slavery has allowed our affliction and is in full control, we are enabled to cast our anxieties on him.2

“Because he cares about you” 

Here’s the reason why you can turn yourself over to the Lord: He cares. He’s not only powerful, He’s compassionate and kind and intimately concerned with your needs. He’s available when you’re worn out and weary and not sure where you’ll find the strength to keep caring for your family. As one commentator says: 

Casting one’s worries on God would not bring comfort if he were unable to afford assistance in times of distress. Nor would anyone tell his worries to those who are cruel or apathetic, for those who are hateful and indifferent mock our worries by their lack of concern. Giving our anxiety to God makes eminent sense “because he cares for you.” God is not indifferent, nor is he cruel. He has compassion on his children and will sustain them in every distress.3

The fact that God cares is a distinctive of Christianity that other religions don’t offer. No other God has ever shown up for His people with such a perfect record. His character is what makes your caregiving unique. As He cares for you, you are able to care for your family through the comfort you’ve received from Him (2 Cor. 2:4). He will sustain you through this season.

Together beyond the End 

As you look ahead to this Mother’s Day weekend, you and your family may have some difficult days ahead. My own mom will be spending the night on a hotel couch and helping my brother prepare for his third cycle of chemo. 

At one of my brother’s most recent appointments, the doctor was surprised to see my mom was still in town. “It’s what family does,” she told the doctor again. “I’ll be here with him until the end.” 

In God’s economy, the acts of service you undertake as a mom, no matter how routine or seemingly insignificant, have no end. God extends your love for your family toward eternity and uses those acts of service to show the world who He is. 

You need heavenly fortitude to keep showing up and serving. If you let it, Mother’s Day can be a poignant reminder that the strength you need isn’t found in a long Sunday nap or bouquet of fresh flowers. God sees the ways you serve the “least of these” in your midst. And He has promised to be with you through every step. In fact, His exact words sound strikingly familiar to the ones my mom shared with the surprised doctor, 

“And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” —Matthew 28:20

May you find rest and strength in His never ending presence this Mother’s Day and beyond. 

Was this article encouraging to you? If so, share it with another mom in your life . . . and then thank a monthly partner! Revive Partners provide for the ongoing needs of the ministry through prayer and monthly financial gifts that allow Revive Our Hearts to publish high-quality, trusted content like this on a daily basis. To learn more about how you can join Katie in becoming a Revive Partner, visit

Thomas R. Schreiner, 1, 2 Peter, Jude, vol. 37, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2003), 231.

Robert H. Mounce, A Living Hope: A Commentary on 1 and 2 Peter (Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2005), 87. 

Thomas R. Schreiner, 1, 2 Peter, Jude, vol. 37, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2003), 241.

About the Author

Katie Laitkep

Katie Laitkep

Katie Laitkep was working as a hospital teacher when God called her to join Revive Our Hearts as a staff writer. She serves remotely from Houston, Texas, where God sustains her through saltwater beaches, Scripture, and her local church. Katie's … read more …

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