Monday, May 15, 2017

The Day after Mother's Day

Yesterday was the annual day set aside to honor and celebrate mothers.

To honor mothers, we must begin by honoring motherhood. Psalm 127:3 tells us “Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.” Far too often motherhood, childbearing and child-rearing is looked on as a secondary role, not so important in the grand scheme of things. But the psalmist describes children as an inheritance appointed as a reward from God. If children are a blessing, certainly mothers are blessed.

The blessed mother should love her children -- which is to some extent a natural feeling. But it is also something that should be enhanced by good teaching -- “That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children.” (Titus 2:4)

Loving godly mothers can exercise great influence in training their children. Lois and Eunice were women of unfeigned faith (“when I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also.” 2 Timothy 1:5). From his youth Timothy had been taught the holy scriptures (“that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” 2 Timothy 3:15). The scriptures impart wisdom, but the mothers imparted the scriptures to him.

The word of God lays upon all the duty of honoring mothers (Cf., for example, Exodus 20:12; Proverbs 6:20). Further, virtuous women by their lives and examples earn the right of true love and gratitude of their children. “Her children arise up, and call her blessed!” (Cf. Proverbs 31:10-31 )

Mothers are a most excellent blessing from the Lord! There is nothing like the love of a mother. But there is a love that excels their love. All in all, mothers are part of the descendants of Adam, all of whom sin and come short of the glory of God. There is only one love that is excellent and enduring, the love of the one who is love itself (Cf. 1 John 4:8).

Though the scriptures consistently speak of God in masculine terms -- calling him Father and using masculine pronouns to refer to him -- the prophet Isaiah speaks in at least three passages where God's love for his people is compared to the love of a mother.

God carries us.
Isaiah 46:3-4 “Hearken unto me, O house of Jacob, and all the remnant of the house of Israel, which are borne by me from the belly, which are carried from the womb: And even to your old age I am he; and even to hoar hairs will I carry you: I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you.” God expresses his relationship to Jacob/Israel as a mother who had conceived them, bore them in the womb -- and will even carry them in their old age! There comes a time when every mother finally says to her child, “You're too big to carry!” But we are never too big for God to carry. (Reminds me of the old Footprints in the Sand poem.)

God comforts us.
Isaiah 66:12-13 “For thus saith the Lord, Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream: then shall ye suck, ye shall be borne upon her sides, and be dandled upon her knees. As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you; and ye shall be comforted in Jerusalem.” Now the prophet draws before us the picture of the loving mother nursing the little babe, carrying him on her sides, bouncing him on the knees. This is not just the comfort from sorrow or trouble, but the comfort -- the absolute bliss, the full ignorance that anything could be wrong -- that the child feels in the presence of his mother. (Compare Psalm 35:9.)

God remembers us.
Isaiah 49:15-16 “Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me.” Isaiah builds a beautiful text upon the ashes of the impact of sin. Absent the context, the rhetorical device draws us to desire to shout “No” in answer to whether a woman could forget her sucking child. Sadly, experience tells us the answer is “Yes.” (As does Isaiah.) But look upon this ash-heap. From it rises the love of one who cannot forget -- will not forget! Behold his hands! Gaze and find there his people forever graven in the nail scars of Calvary. HE CANNOT FORGET!

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