It’s Mother’s Day weekend, and today I wanted to share a few thoughts about a mother’s role from God’s perspective. This post is a little longer than usual; I hope you’ll take the time to read it.
Now that my boys are grown and gone, Mother’s Day always makes me a little nostalgic. I enjoy where I am in life, but all those sappy country songs really are true – don’t blink, because you’re gonna miss it when it’s over. And it’ll be over so, so quickly.
Of course dads love their children just as much as moms do, but there is something more between a mother and child, something deep and extraordinary and unbreakable.
First, there is a physical bond that develops between mother and child for the nine months between conception and birth. We watch our bodies stretch and grow to accommodate our growing babies; we feel them move inside us; we see his little hand or foot poke us from the inside out.
At the doctor’s, we hear his little heartbeat alongside our own. We wait anxiously, impatiently for his birth, but once he’s born there’s that little bit of sadness, a sense of loss, that we are no longer so intimately connected.
God, ever compassionate and aware of our needs, provided compensation for that loss. He gave us mothers’ hearts, and He designed us to perfectly fulfill the role of mothers.
But what is that role? It doesn’t seem like it’s addressed too specifically in the Bible, and it’s true there is no chapter and verse that says “this is what a mother is supposed to do.” But actually there are some pretty exact instructions on motherhood.
Paul compares his ministering to the Thessalonians to that of a mother with her children: “We were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children.” (1 Thes. 2:6-7) Paul’s a man, and yet he didn’t say that he treated the Thessalonians like a father for his children, but like a mother.
So we are to be gentle, always nurturing and caring for our children.
God, through His prophet Isaiah, promises, “As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you.” (Is. 66:13.) When God comforts us – when we are hurt, or sad, or lonely, or nervous, or afraid – it is a comfort beyond measure, deep and sure and strong. And how does God Himself describe His comfort so that we might have some understanding of what He means? He compares it to a mother comforting her child.
So we are to be a refuge for our children, the one to whom they turn for comfort when the world proves to be an unfriendly place. We comfort our children throughout their entire lives, through scraped knees, broken bones, bruised egos, and broken hearts.
Again in Isaiah, when Zion is moaning that the Lord has forgotten them, He explains His steadfastness and devotion to them by comparing it to a mother’s for her children: “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne?” (Is. 49:15.) Just as God – then and now – continues to pour out His mercy, grace, compassion, and love on His wayward people, so are we to do the same for our children – even (especially!) when they are wayward.
So we are to be devoted and compassionate to our children.
Proverbs 1:8 warns children, “Do not forsake your mother’s teaching.”
So we are to be teachers.
How do we teach them? By example. If you drive through McDonalds with the kids and get home to find out they gave you too much change, then pile the kids back in the car and let them observe you drive back and return the extra money. If little Aiden turns 12 two days before you go to Disneyland, where kids 11 and under get in cheaper, go ahead and pay the extra money, and explain to Aiden that your integrity is worth a lot more than the ten dollars you save by lying. And how can you expect your child to be honest if he sees you cheating on your income tax year after year?
Finally, Psalm 113 talks about the many blessings God pours out on us, and in verse 9 He says that He “settles the barren woman in her home as the happy mother of children.”
So most of all, we are to be grateful. Grateful to God for giving us the gift of our precious children.
There are many occasions over the years to feel less than grateful for our children:
The early years, when it seems they only want to sleep when you’re awake and you spend night after night rocking them to sleep only to have them wake up screaming again the minute you put them back in their cribs;
The toddler years when it seems all you do is chase them around, pick up after them, and listen to them defiantly say, “NO!” again and again;
The school years, when they remember at 9:00 at night that their report on Venezuela is due tomorrow morning; or when you find yourself on a first-name basis with the principal of their school because he has to call you so often;
And the real challenge: The teenage years, when all of a sudden they know everything and you’re dumber than a rock.
It’s easy to be grateful for our children when they’re angels (remember how much we liked to watch them while they were sleeping? Well, that’s because they were asleep!). It’s a lot harder when their halos turn into horns.
So when you find yourself saying to coworkers or friends, “Never have kids!” stop for a minute and remember, God has given you that child as a special gift, and it’s a precious one. Just as He chose Mary to be the mother of His son, so He chose you to be the mother of your children. He picked you out especially for that child because you’re the right mother for that baby, or toddler, or child, or teen. Be grateful always for this privilege.
Remember, too: God doesn’t expect us to be a perfect mothers. He knows we will make mistakes, and lose our tempers, and sometimes just plain blow it. But He has given us mother’s hearts, and a mother’s heart overflows with love for her children.
1Peter 4:8 reminds us that “love covers a multitude of sins.”
If we follow God’s instructions, the mistakes we make over the years will be forgiven and forgotten, and when our children are grown and think back on their childhood, the thing that they will remember most is this:
That their mother loved them.
Happy Mother’s Day.