A Joyful Mother of Children

The year 2020 has given us all more time to pause and reflect. One thing that has impressed itself on me is the family God has blessed me with. As other outside demands and activities faded into the background, I noticed my family coming into clearer focus.

In our culture, it is easy to relegate our children to the bottom of the pile of things to do. We have our to-do list, and our children’s needs are often fitted in around our schedule. It led me to think of the high value God puts on children.

“Children are a heritage from the Lord.”

Psalm 127:3

“Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.’”

Matthew 19:14 NIV

In the early church, encouragement was given for the older women to “urge the younger women to love their husbands and children” (Titus 2:4 NIV).

Loving our children can be seen in a variety of ways. It is looking after their wellbeing. Creating a healthy, peaceful environment for them to live in. Caring for their physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing. I have had to ask myself, am I being intentional in my parenting? Am I letting my children spend too much time on screens, so I can “get stuff done”?

Being intentional takes effort. And time. And planning. And doing.

I want to involve my children in the life of the home, by having them help with chores, teaching them skills for life, so they will feel a valuable part of the family and will be prepared for independence when the time comes for it.

I want to be more intentional about instilling spiritual values into my children. Not in a stiff, formal way, but, sprinkling it in throughout the day.

“Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”

Deuteronomy 11:19 NIV

I want to create more of a learning environment in our home, where good books are read and shared, introducing my children to great men and women of faith from past generations. 

And I want to get involved in their lives. Find out what their interests are, take time to listen, and learn about them.

Often as mothers, we find ourselves constantly directing, instructing, correcting. But it is good to take time to stop and listen. To stop and play. To enter their world for a while. To have fun with them!

Psalm 113 verse 9 says, “He grants the barren woman a home, like a joyful mother of children”.

A joyful mother?

When I first came across that phrase it caused me to pause. Am I a joyful mother? Unfortunately, I had to admit I was often definitely not a joyful mother. Motherhood is hard work. But as I thought about being a joyful mother, it helped to remind me that children are a gift from God. He has kindly blessed me and my husband with four healthy boys. We should value them as much as God does and see them as the main responsibility in our lives, not an added extra.

This past year has made me reconsider my priorities. Yes, I am called to serve within my church family, and to reach out into my community, but not at the expense of loving my children well.

Of course, we will not do this parenting thing perfectly. We can all give ourselves grace, but we also need to embrace this job with energy and approach it with joy. God has given these children to us.

Like the woman in Proverbs 31:26-28 we can:

  • Teach our children – “She opens her mouth with wisdom”.
  • Listen and respond to our children with kindness, not being abrupt or impatient – “on her tongue is the law of kindness”.
  • Set our priorities and values for our home – “She watches over the ways of her household”.
  • Make the necessary effort – “and does not eat the bread of idleness”.

And then we too may be privileged to hear the echo coming back to us through the years, the voices of our children . . . “Her children rise up and call her blessed”

Courageous Compassion

“And they watched Jesus, to see whether he would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse him…

…And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart.”

(Mark 3:2,5 ESV)
They were watching – waiting for an opportunity to accuse.

They had their standards, their rules. They felt justified.

God had given them the law of the Sabbath. “You shall do no work on it; it is the Sabbath of the Lord” (Leviticus 23:3).

If this man, Jesus of Nazareth, healed on the Sabbath, He would be breaking the Sabbath rest! If He was from God, surely He would know better.

But why was the Sabbath given?

“Six days you shall labour and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work…For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth…and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.”

(Exodus 20:9-11)

The Sabbath was to be a blessing – a day of rest. The religious leaders of Jesus’ time had made it into a day of bondage by adding rule upon rule to the Word of God.

The result was an emphasis on keeping the rules – being in the right place, acting the right way, dressing in the right clothes, saying the right things – all of them things that could be seen and evaluated.

But their insistence on keeping the rules, as they saw them, resulted in grave consequences.

In the synagogue that day there was a man with a withered hand.

Perhaps they had got used to seeing him there, or others like him with various disabilities. They really didn’t care.

Their thoughts were occupied with whether this man, Jesus, would go against the rules and conventions of the times.

They were hoping to find fault with Him.

They gave little thought to the other man in the story – a man with a distressing problem. His hand was deformed and of no use. He was dependent on others, likely having no employment and dismal prospects. And they had no compassion for him, no great desire to see him helped.

The Lord looked around at them, saw the hardness and was grieved.

But it was that line that got my attention as I read it.

He looked around at them with anger.

Anger!

The anger reflects how deeply He was grieved by the attitude of their hearts. They had it all wrong. Their desire to keep the Sabbath holy to their standard was resulting in them hardening their hearts to this man’s plight.

As women, we have a vital role to play in reaching out to other women, whether in our families, our churches, or our communities.

There are women struggling with difficult marriages, the pressures of work, motherhood and more, who are desperate for someone to reach out to them, stand with them and support them in the trials they are going through.

But what is our response? Do we harden our hearts?

  • Perhaps it’s a delicate situation…or a complicated one.
  • ‘Don’t get involved’ is the phrase we often hear.
  • What would others think of us?
  • Perhaps there would be murmurings against us.
  • Some might be angry, seeing it as interfering.

But are we more concerned with our own reputation, than with ministering to a broken, hurting soul? Will I reach out and stand with a sister in need? Or will I stay in the shadows – avoiding any potential controversy that may come?

The Lord Jesus was not intimidated by the disapproval of others. He called to the man, “Step forward”. He brought him out into the light and stood with him in front of the critics.

“He said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand’…and his hand was restored as whole as the other.”

(Mark 3:5)

The Lord Jesus had a heart full of compassion. He had His focus on the man’s need, not on what others would think of Him – whether He would be judged.

He stood up and healed the man, restoring him to a fully functioning life.

When we see someone in need and come alongside them, we can bring life and hope to a difficult situation. We will not be able to fix the problems, but we can love these women God has placed in our path and be a true friend to them.

Most importantly, we can point them toward the One who is the Friend that sticks closer than a brother, the One who has promised to never leave them nor forsake them, the One who binds up the wounds and heals the broken-hearted, and the One who restores hope. He alone can breathe life into their wounded hearts and lift them out of their despair.

“Inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.”

(Matthew 25:40)