Summary: A sermon for mothers’ day on Isaiah 46:3, 49:15 and 66:13.
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"Heavenly Father, help us to think of you as someone who mothers us. Amen."
Mothers are under pressure. They look after children, spread love and affection, ... They wash and clean. Some care for ailing parents, others do volunteer work in the community, most labour in a job to supplement the family’s income and more than a few do all of the above. Mothers are kept busy and therefore one research project reports: "Two-thirds of mothers face most weeks without the prospect of spending time on themselves." And yet, regardless, many mothers feel guilty. They are run off their feet but nevertheless chastise themselves for not doing enough for their children, husband, home, community, career, and so on.
Just a few days ago I commented on a newspaper article which suggested that most children of two parents working in a full-time job are happy with the family arrangements. They apparently don’t worry about the latch-key or the many hours spent alone in the house. As we talked, my wife surprised me with swift affirmation of the findings. After a while she said: "That’s good to hear because most mothers feel guilty about going to work. I feel guilty sometimes especially when the youngest sheds a few tears at pre-school." Who would have thought? There I was in my male ignorance – completely stumped that someone who, I think, as a parent does a much better job than I do, a competent mother would feel guilty about the care she provides.
Mothers today need encouragement and maybe nothing is as encouraging as God comparing himself to a mother. Listen to the Bible. God says: "Listen to me ... you whom I have upheld since you were conceived, and have carried since your birth" (Isaiah 46:3 (quickview) ); "Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you. See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands ... " (Isaiah 49:15-16 (quickview) ); "As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you and you will be comforted ... " (Isaiah 66:13 (quickview) ).
Human as we are we may get most of our ideas about God from our fathers because our use of language is so limited. We call God our heavenly father and therefore involuntarily think about the fathers we know and make a connection with our earthly fathers. However, today on mother’s day let’s expand our horizon. The Bible says: God is also our heavenly mother. He himself makes the comparison. He carries us in his womb. We are like babies at his breasts – babies whom he has borne. He comforts us like a mother – the mother he is. What an encouraging comparison for mothers. Mothers – the way they love and dote on their children – mothers can give a glimpse of what God himself is like.
C.S. Lewis thought of the husband as the head of the family and tried to understand why. Here are his thoughts which pay a compliment to mothers in a roundabout way. Hear what he writes: " ... I speak quite frankly as a bachelor, because ... you can see from outside even better than from inside. The relations of the family to the outer world – what might be called its foreign policy – must depend in the last resort, upon the man, because he always ought to be, and usually is, much more just to the outsiders. A woman is primarily fighting for her own children and husband against the rest of the world. Naturally, almost, in a sense, rightly, their claims override, for her, all other claims ... The function of the husband is to see that this natural preference of hers is not given its head. He has the last word in order to protect other people from the intense family patriotism of the wife. If anyone doubt this, let me ask a simple question. If your dog has bitten the child next door, which would you sooner have to deal with, the master of that house or the mistress? ... " (Mere Christianity, p100-101). It seems that the bachelor C.S. Lewis was almost scared of the intense family patriotism of mothers. He rathers deals with the master of the house than the mistress. Isn’t that just another way of saying that mothers lavish grace on their children? Right or wrong: they will be defended. Just think that’s how God is. We sin but he defends us anyway. He is our heavenly mother who will roar like a lion if anyone tried to touch us. We are precious in his eyes.