Mother’s Day can be horribly painful for some people.
I held more than one sobbing child in the big rocking chair during the darkest nights of their little lives. More than once I heard, “Why doesn’t my mommy love me?”
As a foster parent my own heart was torn up by the pain of little ones whose mothers chose alcohol or drugs over their kids, and with one exception all of the 24 children who arrived on our doorstep were there because their mothers’ own pain left them with nothing left to give. In the midst of drowning fear and emptiness they forgot their kids. It was hard to forgive them sometimes, but I realized that a person can’t give what they have never received, and these moms needed to be loved themselves.
God understands that too.
“Can a woman forget her nursing child,
that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb?
Even these may forget,
yet I will not forget you. (Isaiah 49:15)
None of us were parented perfectly. Even the most outstanding mother in the world has moments when her own deficits get in the way. That’s when Abba–Daddy-Father God, our Mother, can fill in. The Bible speaks of his gentle nurturing motherliness –something beyond gender.
For thus says the Lord:
“Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river,
and the glory of the nations like an overflowing stream;
and you shall nurse, you shall be carried upon her hip,
and bounced upon her knees.
As one whom his mother comforts,
so I will comfort you;
you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.
You shall see, and your heart shall rejoice;
your bones shall flourish like the grass;
and the hand of the Lord shall be known to his servants,
and he shall show his indignation against his enemies. (Isaiah 66: 12-14)
More than a foster parent he adopts us and makes us full heirs. This is why I love adoption. It is a picture of being chosen and of lives redeemed by a perfect parent –without age limit.
Sometimes he also uses someone else with skin on to be an agent of this grace.
Paul wrote: For we never came with words of flattery, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed— God is witness. Nor did we seek glory from people, whether from you or from others, though we could have made demands as apostles of Christ. But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us. (1 Thessalonians 23: 5-8)
A few years ago I wrote a hymn for Mother’s Day recognizing God as a mother and thanking him for all the “mothers” –biological, fostering, adopting, step-parenting, hosting, caring and mentoring (regardless of gender) he has put in our lives who have nurtured us in some way.
As a Mother
As a mother, on whose bosom,
rests a child in total trust,
so, oh Lord, You love and comfort
‘til our earth-bound fears are hushed.
As a mother guides and teaches
little children to obey
so, oh Lord, you firmly tell us,
“Listen child to what I say.”
As a mother waits with weeping
for a child who’s gone astray,
so, oh Lord, You wait with longing
‘til we find our homeward way.
As a mother who rejoices
when her child says, “I love you,”
so, oh Lord, Your heart rejoices
when we sing, “We love You too.”
We, your children, come before You
to give honour and to praise.
Thank you for the precious “mothers”
who have shown Your loving ways.
Help us, Lord, to love and nurture
those entrusted to our care,
‘til as one united family
we will live together there.
(suggested tune setting: The Welsh folksong, “Suo-Gan” )
God is good.