With a wonderful cup of Ethiopian Sudoma coffee and my Bible, I began the morning. I have lingered over Psalm 131 for some time now pondering David’s description of having a still and quiet spirit like that of a weaned child. As I read I thought, “How I long for the still quiet soul that David writes of–my calm comes in fits and starts–I am ruled by the circumstances of my life and feel more like a pinball bouncing in a machine than a weaned child. What do I need to be weaned of that I might enjoy the contented life?” I went searching through the weighty wisdom of past saints to help me think this through!
“The soul is weaned from one thing by giving its attention to another. The task to the mother is trying and troublesome. The infant cries, and seems to sob out his heart. He thinks it very hard in her, and knows not what she means by her seeming cruelty, and the mother’s fondness renders all her firmness necessary to keep her at the process; and sometimes she also weeps at his pleading looks and big tears and outstretched hands…and she pities and perseveres; the child is denied his comfort and therefore frets and worries and flies into tantrums and sinks into sulks.
Yet time brings not only alleviations, but the ending of the conflict; the child now is quite content to find his nourishment at the table with his brothers, and feels no lingering wish to return to those dear fountains from which he once sustained his life. He is no longer angry with his mother, but buries his head in that very bosom after which he pined so grievously: he is weaned on his mother rather than from her. To the weaned child, his mother is his comfort though she has denied him comfort.
It is a blessed mark of growth out of spiritual infancy when we can forego the joys which once appeared essential, and can find our solace in Him who denies them to us. When we think ourselves safely through the weaning, we sadly discover that the old appetites are rather wounded than slain, and we begin crying again for the breasts which we had given up.
Weaning takes the child out of a temporary condition into a state in which he will continue for the rest of his life: to rise above the world to enter upon a heavenly existence which can never end. When we cease to hanker for what the world has to offer we begin hoping in the Lord. O Lord, as a parent weans a child, so do wean me, and then shall I fix all my hope on you alone.”
William Jay (1769-1853), in “Evening Exercises for the Closet.” and Charles Spurgeon, “The Treasury of David“. “Mother and Child” by Joanne Burns
Well, it seems that learning to be content carries with it many lessons of “loss”. When we are weaned as infants, we lose the milk we desire in order to be able to receive the solid food we now need for growth. If I am to be content I must crawl up on the lap of God and be content on Him and not seek it away from Him! My affections need to be weaned from all lesser affections that I seek to substitute for the Greatest One! As my friend Jane reminded me–a weaned child is a contented child!