by Grace Outlaw
I love that we set aside a day to celebrate the women who birthed us, those who raised us, influenced us, or mentored us. Mother's Day can mean a lot of things to a lot of different people depending on your personal journey. Where ever you are in your motherhood journey, I want you to know that we celebrate you, we pray for you, and we love you. The Bible is filled with stories of mothers, and I love that their stories are as wide ranging as our own today. When we look at them and see what they've gone through: temptation, judgment, loss, sacrifice, joy, hope, etc we can see ourselves in them and take comfort in the same God that has provided for them. Below are a few of my favorites! Eve The mother of all, created as a counterpart to man as it was not good for him to be alone. Even her name is a reflection of the Hebrew word for life. She was the first woman, the first wife, and the first mother. As a result she was the first to experience the empowerment of childbirth, but she was also the first to experience the pain of losing a child. It may be easy to associate Eve and her story with the darkness of the fall of man – she and Adam set humanity on a path not easily corrected, but as a result she was the catalyst for the beautiful story of God's relentless pursuit of humanity through the millennia. Sarah Unfortunately, many couples can relate to the struggles of Sarah and her husband, Abraham. They desperately wanted a child together, but remained childless long after they could reasonably be expected to conceive. But God made a promise to give them a child through whom the nations of the world would be descended. Their son's descendants would be 'as numerous as the starts in the night sky.' How crazy is that kind of promise to be made to a 65 year old woman? And then Sarah waited twenty-five more years before God fulfilled his promise to make her a 'mother of all nations' and bless her with her son, Isaac. Her hope and patience are inspiring! Jochebed All mothers make sacrifices for their children. The horror of living in a land where the Pharaoh was having all baby boys killed is unfathomable in our world today. Jochebed gave up her newborn baby to the river, with only a basket to protect him. Her sacrifice, and her faith were rewarded. The baby boy was pulled from the river by a royal maidservant and taken to the Pharaoh's daughter who risked upsetting Pharaoh by disregarding the law and raising Moses as her own. Many mothers today make sacrifices in hope for a better life for their child, and many others are able to foster, adopt, or mentor children as their own. This link between Jochebed and the daughter of Pharaoh is a beautiful one; two women who love the same little boy. Naomi Naomi's story is one of heartbreak, and how God can continue to move even in your grief. Naomi (whose name means sweet or pleasant) loses her husband and not one, but both of her sons. As a result of her grief, she gives herself a new name: Mara, which means bitter. She is so heartbroken that she re-identifies herself completely with the grief she is lost in. Her daughter-in-law, Ruth, refuses to leave her despite their destitute circumstances, but God provides for them. He provides Ruth with a husband who can help the two widows out of their poverty. Despite her grief, Naomi cares for Ruth and helps her to secure the marriage. Through this, she not only preserves her daughter-in-law, but gains a son as well; a blessing that sustains her into her old age. Mary There may be no mother more famous than the mother of Jesus himself. How many mothers truly feel ready to take that step into motherhood? To add to that, how many unwed teenagers feel ready to take that step into motherhood? Especially in a time where that could get you stoned! But Mary's faith is inspiring. She willingly steps into the role God has granted her saying, “behold, from this day forward all generations will count me blessed,” and gives birth to her son, Jesus. Mary pops up several different times throughout the New Testament. Her story weaves a rich tapestry of motherhood, from the intense excitement of finding out you're expecting, the hard work that comes with raising a child, and the unbearable grief of standing by and witnessing your son save all of humanity with his sacrifice. Although the disciples scattered, his followers in hiding, Mary stayed at the cross. Through it all, Jesus' mother was there. Each of these women have a powerful story to tell. Their strength, their faith in God, and their hope in his promises is inspiring to all of us. Each of them finds an inner courage with which to face the seemingly impossible.