Today is Mother’s Day – the day we think of the blessings of motherhood. In reflecting on this day, I’m reminded of inspiring women who had messed-up experiences in motherhood. Many biblical women endured hard places, being forced to lean on the Lord alone and nothing else. For example:
- Jocabed, mother of Moses knew her child would be taken away and killed if he were found. Emotions if I were her? Fear and anger (Lord, why would you give me a child only for him to be taken away or killed?) anxiety and depression. But she responded with faith in God even though He gave her a child at a difficult time. Faith that He would take care of her and the child. Faith that the Author of their story knew what He was doing.\
- Mary, mother of Jesus knew her divine pregnancy defined her as morally corrupt and open for misunderstanding and judgment. Emotions if I were her? Fear, anger, anxiety and ambivalence. While knowing the honor and calling on her life, no doubt there were dark days for her, being aware of the whispers, looks, and judgment that came her way. But she responded by clinging to the Lord she knew was writing her story, clinging to Him when no one else may have encouraged her. She clung to him when she felt alone.
- Sarah, mother of Isaac was pregnant past her prime, when her husband already had a child from another woman. Emotions if I were her? Fear and anger (Lord, why would you allow Hagar to bear Abram’s child when you knew I was to have one?), anxiety, jealousy and bitterness. While she knew she was bearing a child anointed by God, the strained relationship between her, Hagar and Ishmael must have caused some strife in her life. She responded by remaining faithful the story line the Lord gave her, even though it was hard. Scripture tells us she laughed (Exodus 21:6) and took one day at a time.
There are truths these women encountered that face many of us:
- Life wasn’t supposed to be this way
- This isn’t what I expected
- Motherhood has more pain than joy right now.
I hear these statements when I share with women. Mother’s Day can be painful to individuals suffering in heartache, often alone. But motherhood pain isn’t a popular discussion in bible studies, church meetings, coffee breaks or in social media. Facebook or Twitter statuses rarely say, “Motherhood is not what I bargained for. I don’t think I can make it.”
If Hallmark doesn’t fit the bill for you this Mother’s Day, God’s Word does. It shares the lives of real women in hard places, with real pain….. in places they didn’t expect to find themselves….places where there are no easy answers. If you or a woman you know faces a tarnished Motherhood this year, share these principles from biblical women who were hard-pressed to find joy in motherhood.
- They each knew the Lord intimately. Each of these women could stand in their circumstances because they knew the Lord and His character when the truth of their circumstance dictated His absence from their situation. God is never absent from our situation or that of our children. He sees beyond the trial and knows the ending. In that we can take hope. When there’s no hope in sight, we must look to and know the author of the Story.
- They clung to the Lord and His character. Clinging conjures up visions of grasping hold of, refusing to let go because doing so would result in disaster (clinging to a raft vs. drowning, clinging to a ledge vs. falling to destruction). Despite their emotions, these women clung to the One they easily could have rejected. If motherhood only includes blessings, then what do you cling to when the image of motherhood is not what you signed up for? You cling to a sovereign, good God who sees the bigger picture…..clinging to the truth of His character when the “truth” of our emotions can lead us away from Him. Our emotions can betray us.
- Motherhood does not define our happiness, but our relationship with God does. What do you think got Mary through the whispers, misunderstandings and acts of judgment thrown her way? If Jocabed’s happiness was determined by baby Moses, what was she left with when God’s plan took this child from her? Happiness for these women did not rely on their motherhood or dreams for their children, but was rooted in their relationship and identity with the Living God.
Wherever this Mother’s Day finds you, take encouragement from these women. They were real women whose encouragement didn’t come from the culture around them, but from the Lord authoring their story. You can receive the same encouragement, too.
Lord, thank you that You are the Author of our stories. Will you encourage each woman who is hurting this Mother’s Day? Thank you.