Mothering Sunday Meditation

Exodus 2:1-10

Psalm 34:11-20

Colossians 3:12-17

Luke 2:33-35

Jocabed is not a well known name in the Old Testament, but she is vitally important in the story ofMoses. She was his mother and was faced with the challenge that all Israelite mothers had to face at that time – the order of Pharaoh to throw into the River Nile all newborn baby boys (see Exodus 1:22).  Jocabed disobeyed the royal edict when Moses was born. She hid her precious baby for many weeks, but when he reached the age of three months, no doubt growing strong and increasingly vocal, she had an anguished decision to make. She resolved to set her son adrift on the river,  floating in a papyrus basket (2:1-3).  As everyone knows, Moses was found by Pharaoh’s daughter and raised as her son (2:5-10), but we can only guess at the pain Moses’ true mother endured as she laid her baby in the basket, and later when she relinquished him to the care of Pharaoh’s daughter.  Thus was saved the future leader of the Israelite nation –  bought at the cost of a mother’s tears. 

Motherhood is a joy, filling ones heart with love,  but love makes one vulnerable, and most mothers know anguish, fear, overarching worry and even grief. Mary, the mother of Jesus, experienced the ultimate grief of witnessing her son dying as a common criminal, reviled and taunted, suffering extreme pain as he bore the sins of the whole world (see John 19:25; 1st John 2:2). When the infant Jesus was presented at the Temple, Simeon recognised in him God’s salvation 'prepared in the sight of all people' (Luke 2:30-31). Mary and Joseph 'marvelled at what was said about him', but Mary’s heart must have turned to ice when she heard Simeon’s prophetic pronouncement, 'and a sword will pierce your own soul too' (2:35).  She must have realised then, the anguish that lay ahead for her, and she must have shrunk from the additional knowledge that her son would be pierced 'too'.

Motherhood demands emotional sacrifices, besides the sacrifices of time and energy. But the more everyday demands include  the happy experience of sharing ones faith with children, of teaching them 'the fear of the Lord' (Psalm 34:11). Faith is the most precious gift we can make to our offspring, the only real cause for confidence in this uncertain world (v 15-18). Most mothers know that faith is no protection against trials and difficulties, but it provides the certainty of an ultimate happy outcome; 'the righteous man [or woman] may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all' (v 19). To instill this into our children is to provide them with the greatest protection possible.   When we put our trust in Christ, we receive his peace in our hearts (Colossians 3:15). Mothers can work for that peace to rule in their households also.

Second to faith is love. Mothers love their children, but expressing love when the difficulties of life crowd in is not always easy. We are encouraged to bear with each other, to forgive freely and to clothe ourselves with love – deliberately putting it on like a garment (Colossians 3:14) – and to 'do all in the name of the Lord Jesus' (3:17).

We will not have to face the anguish that Mary did, nor even undergo the sadness of Jocabed, but motherhood challenges us.  Christian women who try, but believe they have failed, can draw strength and comfort from knowing that all is in God’s hands and that he delivers godly people through trials (Psalm 34:19). Those who have succeeded can humbly thank God for his blessings.

Susan Thorne