Because God is like a mother…

Posted by on May 8, 2022 in Blog | 8 comments

silhouette photo of a mother carrying her baby at beach during golden hour

If you are reading this post on its day of publication, its Mother’s Day – or at least it is in Australia, though date conventions are different around the world. What’s also true is that in Australia (and some other countries) the day has become a little more controversial, some suggesting it is insensitive to those who don’t have a mother, or who would like to be a mother but aren’t, or for children who are growing up in a two dad family or whatever. And we do indeed live in diverse times and it is appropriate for us to be sensitive to those who feel left out, or a stab of pain on this day. Family is the source of both our greatest joys and our greatest sorrows, and for some, even the thought of celebrating family is a bridge too far. I do get this and am genuinely sad for those for whom this is true. For them days like Mother’s Day are not easy.

However… I had an amazing mother, and it would be insulting for me not to celebrate her very positive influence in my life; and my wife Rosemary has been an exceptional mother to our three children (and arguably to me!), and I fully intend to celebrate her this mother’s day; and I have three wonderful grandchildren, and I am delighted that I get to celebrate their mothers this mother’s day. I’ve even got myself roped into making the dessert for our family celebration – fortunately I am not the only male assigned this task, and others will probably be more effective than me (or is that I?), but I am having a stab at a berry crumble, which represents the limit of my culinary ability.

As I thought about celebrating mothers, it struck me that while God is more commonly described as our Father in scripture, the Bible does not hesitate to compare God to a mother. If you would like to explore the topic in greater depth, Tim Bulkely’s book Not Only a Father is a great place to start. Here are some verses worth thinking about.

In Hosea 11:3-4 God is described as performing tasks more commonly done by mothers (and that would definitely have been true in the world in which the Bible was written):

“Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk, I who took them up in my arms; but they did not know that I healed them. I led them with cords of human kindness, with bands of love. I was to them like those who lift infants to their cheeks. I bent down to them and fed them.”

Later in Hosea 13:8 God is described as a mother bear, protective to the point of ferociousness:

“Like a bear robbed of her cubs, I will attack them and tear them asunder…”

In Deut 32:18 we are told that God gives us birth, another mother image:

“You were unmindful of the Rock that bore you; you forgot the God who gave you birth.”

Isaiah 66:13 describes God as a comforting mother:

“As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.”

Isaiah 49:15 compares God to a nursing mother:

“Can a woman forget her nursing child, or show no compassion for the child of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you.”

Isaiah 42:14 is a daring verse as God is compared to a woman in labor:

“For a long time I have held my peace, I have kept myself still and restrained myself; now I will cry out like a woman in labor, I will gasp and pant.”

In Matthew 23:37 and Luke 13:34 Jesus likens himself to a mother hen

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!”

In Luke 15:8-10 God is seen as a woman looking for her lost coin:

“Or what woman having ten silver coins, if she loses one of them, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it? When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

Genesis 1:26-27 informs us that both women and men are made in God’s image. The implication is that God’s image is not tied to gender, for how else could this be true? All attempts to describe God are limited, but it is significant that in spite of being written in an overwhelmingly patriarchal era, the Bible uses both male and female imagery to help us understand God a little better. And I for one am so glad that it does, for my own mother was wonderful, and though I miss her every day, “as a mother comforts her child,” so God comforts me.

As always, nice chatting…

Feel free to reproduce this with acknowledgment, or to pass it on to any who might find it helpful.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

8 Comments

  1. So beautifully said, Brian, thank you – I needed this this morning! I pray you enjoy your day with your precious family. In my opinion, we don’t celebrate family enough! Shalom to you.

    • Thanks Sarah. Hope it’s a special day for you as well.

  2. Comment *thankyou Brian for this lovely reminder to celebrate! Sometimes I feel we are so afraid of offending others ( especially in our world today) that we can miss out on the simple celebration of goodness.
    I enjoy reading your blog each Sunday before I head out at 7am for early church- I can’t imagine how early you get up to write it!
    Jenni v

    • Thanks Jenni. I guess Rom 12:15 tells us to rejoice with those who rejoice and to weep with those who weep – and we need to do both well.
      TBH, I usually write the posts a day or two in advance and then schedule them for 6am Sunday. Early rising is not one of my virtues! Hope you have a wonderful day.

  3. Perfectly expressed Brian! I recently lost my mom (November last year) and I know she’s with Our Lord but today the other mothers in my life continue to hold high the love she was. I thank Him for them all and especially for Karen mum in our little family.

    • Sorry to hear of your loss Carl. I guess the first Mother’s Day without her feels especially poignant. But you are right to celebrate Karen for she is indeed wonderful.

  4. So enjoyed the scriptures that you quoted. They are precious to me.

    • Thanks Ruth. They are indeed rich and wonderful verses.

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