The Privilege and Power of Motherhood

The Privilege and Power of Motherhood

I had the privilege of addressing the HBC ladies and friends at our inaugural Mother’s Day dinner last week. Here are a few thoughts of what I shared.

I distinctly remember growing up and reading the children’s book Are You My Mother?. It is the story of a baby bird that hatched in the nest to find his mother not there. As he peered around, he stumbled and fell to the ground. This began a quest to find her. In his search he came across a cat, a dog, a cow and even a plane, and to each he asks, “Are you my mother?”. And the answer is always, “No, I’m not your mother!”. During the story there is a stressful episode for a seven-year-old, as the chick walks past his mother and doesn’t recognise her. Finally, the tension is over when he is finally united with her back in the nest.

The little bird was on a quest to find his mother. She had certain attributes and characteristics that defined who she was. It was not the meow of a cat, or the bark of a dog, or the moo of a cow. But his mother was identified in her love and nurture and provision of a worm, and warmth of wings to find comfort under. That is how God made her. In the same way, mothers, God has made you, as image bearers of God that is female, to display God’s glory in a uniquely profound way. May you embrace who you are, so that your children would flourish and we would get a glimpse of God’s character. Here are a few thoughts to help you.

You have the unique privilege of giving new life

There is a kind of incarnational power that you have that men don’t. God has endowed you with the ability to create life, albeit with the initial help of a man. You know what this means. You carried your child for nine months and, far from running from the curse of childbearing (Gen 3:16), you pushed into it. In effect, you died to your comfort and embraced the pain to bring into being new life. Though it may have been far from your mind at the time, through this process you showcased what Christ did for His people in entering the pain and curse of the cross that new life would be born for all who would repent and trust in Him for salvation. Who are you? You are a life-giver who reflects the true, spiritual life that God freely gives.

You have the unique privilege of nurturing new life

God has given you the capacity to love in a unique way. This is expressed in gentleness, compassion, understanding and sympathy that the child finds comfort, wellbeing, confidence, protection and safety in. I often watch in wonder as my wife carries the burdens of our children, while bringing them to the Lord in prayer. Without a thought to herself she will embrace our sick and vomiting child with arms of love and words of comfort. The Apostle Paul understood the love of a mother, when he told the church in Thessalonica, “But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children” (1 Thess 2:7). Paul did not come to them with a heavy hand, but like a mother who nurtures her child, he was gentle with them to build them up and strengthen them in their faith lest they be crushed. Mothers, you have the God-given capacity to nurture, that all who receive it feel the embrace of God. Who are you? You are a life-giver and a nurturer!

You have the unique privilege of maturing new life

Because you care, sympathise and nurture, the emotional, physical and mental pain and sacrifice of child-raising is a very heavy burden. Once again, the Apostle Paul used you as an example, as he addressed the church at Galatia with, “my little children, for whom I am again in the anguish of childbirth until Christ is formed in you!” (Gal 4:19). Paul compares the pain of childbirth to the anguish he had for the spiritual maturing of the church. No matter what age your children are, you are never freed from the care of them as you see them make mistakes, suffer disappointments, fall into sin and reap the ramifications of their choices. And yet this is how God has made you and that is what God has called you to.

You cannot do it, but God can

Despite your unique God-given privilege and capacity of motherhood, you are not capable of doing what God has called you to do. You know this. After two hours of trying to pacify your crying child, all those maternal feelings of love, gentleness and patience quickly fly out the window. When your child forgets their lunch at school and asks you to drive it in, your frustration is kindled. When your adult child makes wrong decisions and refuses your care, you are easily given to despair. Mothers, it is at this point that you are driven to the privileged position of crying out to your Lord, saying, “I can’t but You can!”.

The Apostle Paul knew this privilege: “For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead” (2 Cor 1:8-9). Paul was utterly despairing, to the point of death. And yet he recognised that God had purposed this to get him to the position of saying and seeing, “I can’t, but You can!”. When those words were uttered in faith God’s enabling power was unleashed to Paul and it is similarly unleashed to you.

The God who raises the dead is the God who carries you through your darkest hours of mothering. Whether you are a biological or spiritual mother, you have been endowed with unique characteristics that display God’s beautiful nature. But in and of yourself, you are not enough. Therefore, our Lord calls you to pray to Him and rely upon Him to grant you whatever you need to tend to your children’s needs while tending to your own soul. All your resources are yours in Christ. May you know them.

Who are you? You are a mother who embraces God’s design as a life-giver, nurturer, and disciple-maker at the expense of yourself, while relying totally upon the God who raises the dead. May you know the privilege and power of motherhood.

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