THE PAIN OF MOTHERHOOD
Thus says the Lord:
“A voice was heard in Ramah,
Lamentation and bitter weeping,
Rachel weeping for her children,
Refusing to be comforted for her children,
Because they are no more” (Jeremiah 31:15 NKJV).
The month of May is upon us; and that means, we’re all feverishly planning for Mother’s Day; to show our appreciation to the mothers in our lives. To be a mother is a unique experience; reserved only for women who have given birth to, or adopted a child.
Mothers unequivocally know that, their experiences are diametrically opposed; as they are both painful and joyful. Referring to his death and resurrection, Jesus spoke to this when he said; A woman, when she is in labor, has sorrow because her hour has come; but as soon as she has given birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world (John 16:21).
Life is full of twists and turns. Each day begins a new chapter of struggles and heartaches for all of us; however, mothers and their children usually bear the brunt.
In the opening text to this newsletter, we read from the Prophet Jeremiah who alluded to the pain the Jews went through during their time in exile in Assyria and Babylon. Rachel, the beloved wife of Jacob, died many years before the ministry of Jeremiah. The mentioning of her name in this prophecy is a proverbial symbol of the weeping of those Jewish mothers who either were taken captives or lost their children because of the exile. Jeremiah’s prophecy was fulfilled when King Herod ordered the killings of all children aged two years and under during the time Jesus was born (Matthew 2:16-18).
God has designed women’s reproductive system for childbearing. Mothers do narrate the difficulties they go through during their pregnancies. The excessive morning sicknesses, back pains and bodily weaknesses plus the gift of a human being born is a cause for celebration.
From the womb, the connection of the umbilical cord between children and their mothers continues in many ways even after they are born. This bond creates unexplainable affection mothers have for their children. They see it as their responsibility to take care of their children. Intuitively, mothers know what to do for their children, when they’re just babies on their laps, or had grown and living on their own. They are good at discerning when their children are in danger, or something untoward is about to happen to them.
The following biblical examples throw light on some of the pain mothers have to endure because, they care so much for their children.
MARY THE MOTHER OF JESUS
Mary was heavily pregnant when Caesar Augustus decree asked for the census of all Roman citizens and those of the nations under his rule. Despite her condition, she journeyed from Nazareth to Bethlehem to be counted (Luke 2:1-7).
Mary’s journey under such strenuous condition was not unique to her. There are millions of mothers who have to travel miles away for medical care for themselves and their children.
Jesus got missing for three days when he was twelve years old. His parents had taken him to Jerusalem during the Passover feast. After he was found, his mother vented out her frustration by asking him the following: “Son, why have You done this to us? Look, Your father and I have sought You anxiously” (Luke 2:48b). Today, it is not uncommon to hear of a missing child. The reality is, behind the news is a mother who’s anxiously looking forward to seeing her child just as Mary did.
At the time Jesus was hanging on the cross, his mother was standing by in pain and sorrow watching the sufferings her Son was going through (John 19:25-27). Like Mary, scores of mothers endure similar pain because they’ve lost their children. They silently carry their pain alone; not knowing where comfort would come from?
THE SHUNAMMITE MOTHER
This woman was barren before she met Elisha. The man of God prophesied to her that, she will give birth to a son in a year’s time. This happened just as Elisha had told her. Later on, the boy got sick and died. Her mother mustered courage to go to Elisha and broke the news to him. Upon arrival to the woman’s house, Elisha was able to bring the boy back to life; to the joy of his mother (2 Kings 4:8-37).
This story is a reminder of the pain mothers go through daily anytime their children are sick. They (mothers) would do everything for their children to be healed. For some, they’re able to have their children cured due to medical intervention; while others might not be fortunate.
THE WIDOW AND MOTHER OF ZAREPHATH
There was severe drought in Israel; as a result, there was scarcity of food in the whole land. God asked Elijah to go to Zarephath, because, he has ordered a widow in that town to feed him. Upon arrival, Elijah saw a widow at the outskirts of the town gathering sticks. He asked her to give him water to drink; he followed this request with another one, this time, for food. In response, the widow said; “As the Lord your God lives, I do not have bread, only a handful of flour in a bin, and a little oil in a jar; and see, I am gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it, and die” (1 Kings 17:12).
Elijah allayed her fears by telling her that the bin of flour and the jar of oil will not be used up until it rains in the land. This prophecy came true; and the widow and her son and Elijah lived on that meagre supply of food till it rained.
This mother’s experience goes beyond a mere biblical narrative. There are scores of mothers who lack the basic necessities of life for the survival of themselves and their children. They struggle daily to get food to feed their children; but for the intervention of some kind of “miracle,” they wouldn’t know what to do? This underscores the pain and challenges of many mothers in our world.
During this Mother’s Day, let’s remember the staggering number of single mothers who work hard to raise their children. As well, we should not forget mothers who are trapped in abusive relationships without any escape.
As we celebrate Mother’s Day, may we pause to acknowledge the pains of these mothers; and appreciate them more for their bravery and resilience to carry on, irrespective of what life throws at them.
Let’s also remember that, these mothers’ faith in God do propel them to greater heights for themselves and their children.
A reminder of such faith is summed up as follows in Arthur Bardwell Patten’s hymn: FAITH OF OUR MOTHERS.
1 Faith of our mothers, living yet
In cradle song and bedtime prayer,
In nurs'ry love and fireside love,
thy presence still pervades the air:
Faith of our mothers, living faith,
We will be true to thee till death.
2 Faith of our mothers, lavish faith,
The fount of childhood's trust and grace,
O may thy consecration prove
The well-spring of a nobler race:
Faith of our mothers, lavish faith,
We will be true to thee till death.
3 Faith of our mothers, guiding faith,
For youthful longing--youthful doubt,
How blurred our vision, blind our way,
Thy providential care without:
Faith of our mothers, guiding faith,
We will be true to thee till death.
4 Faith of our mothers, Christian faith,
In truth beyond our man-made creeds,
Still serve the home and save the church,
And breathe thy spirit through our deeds:
Faith of our mothers, Christian faith,
We will be true to thee till death.[i]
On behalf of my staff and leaders, I wish the mother of our church, Rev. (Mrs.) Faustina Mantey, and all the mothers in our church and around the world A HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!!!
My second book titled: Understanding Love: Biblical & Cultural Perspectives has just been released. You may order your copy from Amazon.com or through the Publisher @ www.shidaanikei.com.
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Rev. Dr. & Rev. (Mrs.) Charles & Faustina Mantey
Disciples Revival Church
30 Gordon Mackay Road
Toronto, Ontario M9N 2V6. Canada
[i] (n.d.) Faith of our Mothers. Retrieved on April 30, 2018, from https://hymnary.org/text/faith_of_our_mothers_living_yet.
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