God’s Heart Revealed in a Mother: A Mother’s Day Reflection

Some time ago our little grandson Jude was running around the house at high speed, accompanied by some high decibel sounds and screams, which indicated he was having fun. (One realizes very quickly with children that noise is an attraction to them. A contrary condition is sought by those in their senior years. But you learn to live with it, giving the young their desired commotion.) All of a sudden, while running and turning a corner he stubbed his toe, and then the sounds of delight turned to screams of pain.

I was on the verge of saying, “That’s what you get for running at such speed in such a small space.” Instead, my wife went up to him, picked him up, set him on the kitchen counter, took his foot in her hands and kissed his little toes. “I know it hurts and it hurts really badly because these toes are so small. But very soon, the pain will go away and you can run again.”

I stood there watching and felt like an absolute fool and a failed apologist. Margie proved what a mother’s heart does intuitively, and love once again was proven the most powerful apologetic.

If you look across history, it was the faith of mothers that carried many a man to his appointed destiny. Monica for Augustine, Susannah for John Wesley, Jochebed for Moses; the list would only be expanded if we included the role that wives have played in producing greatness.

Womankind in general and mothers in particular have done what the best of men could not do. There is something that combines intuition with courage that has been the incredible gift to women. Ask any missionary and they will tell you that the linguistic skills of a woman almost always exceed that of the man on the mission field. They are truly the great communicators in word and deed.

My mother communicated in word and deed. She was a high school physiology teacher. When she moved to Canada, she was 49 and earned another degree in teaching children with special needs. It was an amazing thing to watch as she crossed linguistic, cultural, and educational boundaries. She was determined. It was a loss to her students when she died in her late fifties. Their expressions were unparalleled tributes.

I know with absolute certainty that I would never have made it without her. She saw in me what nobody else did. She loved in a way no one else ever did when I needed it the most. Ask a soldier on the battlefield and he or she will tell you that their mother’s prayers have sustained them. It is not merely in jest that an athlete says, “Hi Mom” at a victorious moment. One of the greatest MVP speeches ever made was by the basketball player Kevin Durant when he received the award but said, “The real MVP is my mother.”

One of the most successful pastors in Indonesia told me of his childhood, a story of a brave mother who raised several children after being widowed early. I believe mothers have a special honor because their sacrifice is pure and their love is for the sake of the child.

I have often wondered what kinds of conversations Jesus may have had with Mary. Did he ever tell her, “I know what you’ve been through for me”? That would have been a conversation in which to listen in. In John Chapter 4 at Cana, Mary told the attendants to listen to Jesus, and he would do what was needful. At the message he delivered to a crowd in Matthew 12, where there was no room for the family, Mary must have muttered to herself, “I’ve been in this situation before and last time I was carrying him.” This time she had hoped Jesus would make room for them, but he pointed to his larger family that needed to hear his message. She did not protest. But when the Lord of the Universe brought redemption to the whole world, in those precious moments on the cross, he remembered his mother. At that point his family debt was narrowed. An amazing compliment to a courageous woman, who was also among those who were first at the tomb. The mother couldn’t forget her son.

On this Mother’s Day, we would do well to pause and thank God for the role women have played in history and the selfless example of mothers that show us the heart of God in a way that is so pristine. “Can a woman forget her suckling child?” God asks. He reminded his people that such were the promises of God to them—as sure as the love of a mother for her little one.

There is a beautiful painting in my office. It is a little girl looking at Jesus’s hands and saying, “What happened to your hands?” May I suggest a look at a mother’s hands tell a similar story. She labors more than in the marketplace. Mothers labor for their children in a way that is proverbial of the best of love. So whether it is in the skill of the workplace or the folded hands in prayer or the arms that hold the nursing child, a mother shows us the way of love as few other relationships do.

When Pharaoh’s daughter saw the baby in a basket, her mother’s heart reached out to rescue the child. When she got Jochebed to nurse him it was a sovereign God who brought his real mother to work and raise a deliverer. No great deliverer ever reached his or her pinnacle without a mother’s heart somewhere in the mix. Paul reminded young Timothy of that.

So our hearts go out in gratitude to all mothers this day. Happy Mother’s Day and thank you for what you have done to show the heart of God. Having been raised in the north of India and now living in the southern US, may I bring my linguistic skills within context and say, “Happy Mother’s Day, y’all.”

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