My oldest son gave me a gift for Christmas one year that stunned me with its thoughtfulness. It was a scarf that had printed on it literary quotes about mothers. One of my favorites comes from the fifth book in the Anne of Green Gables series, Anne’s House of Dreams.
“Gilbert put his arm about them. ‘Oh, you mothers!’ he said. ‘You mothers! God knew what He was about when He made you.'”
Another quote comes from Little Women:
“The clocks were striking midnight and the rooms were very still as a figure glided quietly from bed to bed, smoothing a coverlid here, settling a pillow there, and pausing to look long and tenderly at each unconscious face, to kiss each with lips that mutely blessed, and to pray the fervent prayers which only mothers utter.”
As a mother, my prayers have only grown in fervency as my children have gotten older. Now that they’re in their 20s, I don’t have access to them as I once did, but I always have access to the throne of grace where I continuously bring them before the Father.
I have recently started taking one day a week and dedicating a certain amount of time on that day to praying not only for my own children but their cousins, the next Beatty generation. I was inspired to do this by my sister-in-law. Today I spent time lifting them up to the Lord and praying that he would give them purpose and confidence. That they wouldn’t have a spirit of fear but a spirit of power, love and a sound mind. (2 Tim. 1:7) That they would not be deceived by sin and have their hearts become hard. (Heb. 3:12-13) That they would focus on the things of eternity and not be drawn away by the fleeting pleasures of this world.
But it can be tempting to get discouraged as I realize that the results of my prayers may not come for a long time. I will have to wait. So how can I prevent becoming discouraged? This is when it’s so helpful to remind myself of the whole testimony of Scripture, particularly as it pertains to mothers. How does God treat mothers and their children? Today I began to make a mental list.
- In Genesis 16 and 21, God seeks out and provides for and blesses the despised Hagar and her son Ishmael. “So she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, ‘You are a God of seeing…'” Genesis 16:13
- In Exodus 2, God honors Moses’ mother’s courage and saves Moses from death by the hand of Pharaoh’s daughter. Moses’ sister then skillfully negotiates to have her mother hired to nurse him!
- In Ruth, God graciously provides for the now son-less and bitter Naomi by giving her a daughter-in-law and a kinsman redeemer named Boaz.
- In 1 Samuel, Hannah’s fervent prayers are honored with the birth of Samuel. She then lends him to the Lord and he becomes a significant man of faith in the story of Israel.
- In 2 Kings 4 we read the story of the childless Shunammite woman who generously provides for Elisha. Elisha prophecies that a son will be born to her. This son then dies of sudden illness and the prophet brings him back to life.
- In Isaiah 40 mothers can take comfort from this passage: “He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.”
And what about in the New Testament? We see God responding to mothers and their fervent desires for their children in the same gracious way.
- In Luke 1, God intervenes in a childless couple’s life and gives Elizabeth and Zechariah a long prayed for son. In Luke 2, we see God bringing Mary to Elizabeth for mutual encouragement.
- In Luke 2, God brings encouragement to Mary’s heart concerning her special Son three separate times. The shepherds tell her of the angels’ proclamation, the devout Simeon tells of her son’s marvelous purpose, and Anna the prophetess gives a testimony of thanksgiving and praise to all as she witnessed this little baby who would be the redemption of Israel.
- In Luke 7, Jesus encounters the widow of Nain whose only son has just died. He had compassion on her and gave her back her son alive.
- In John 19, when Jesus is about to breathe his last, he takes care for his mother and instructs John to bring her into his home.
Looking at the whole testimony of Scripture, we see that God sees mothers. He knows their needs and hears their cries not only for themselves but for their children. Let us not despair or be discouraged as we continually pray for our children. He see us and hears us! And this should not be a surprise to us because there are Scriptures that use mothering imagery to describe God. He is the one who gave birth to his people (Deut. 32:18), who taught them to walk (Hos. 11:3), who will never forget them (Is. 49:15-16), and who seeks to comfort them as a mother comforts her children (Is. 66:13).
So Gilbert was right. God knew what he was doing when he created mothers. For his heart beats with the same rhythm. And as we pray for our children like Marmee in Little Women, know that the tenderness and compassion of our hearts is just a pale reflection of God’s own heart for us.