Only since I’ve had children of my own, and observed their mother in her work as a mother, have I begun to appreciate what a mother really is and what a tremendously high calling a mother has. It is rather common to think of mother as “just mom.” We take her pretty much for granted. Often we are very demanding of her time and energy, but very sparing in our praise. As we grow older, our demands grow more and more vehement and are often accompanied with a mouth full of spiteful back talk. Compliments, if any, are few and far between.
God has given us mothers to bare us and love us. A Christian mother is a fruitful vine that fills the home with good by bringing forth children who are the heritage of the Lord. They give life and sustenance to the unborn child. They travail in giving birth to this heritage of the Lord and “in sorrow bring forth children.” Genesis 3:16. This sorrow is intensified by the realization that this life she is bringing forth was “conceived and born in sin.” It is by nature dead and damnable. But she also brings forth children with joy and thanksgiving knowing that He who is the giver of life is also He who gives rebirth to that new life. She rejoices in the promise that God establishes His covenant with believers and their seed in their generations. What a privilege to be a Christian mother!
Her entire life is wrapped up in her family and many of her own desires must be denied. From an everyday practical point of view, mothers eat cold oatmeal and toast for breakfast, cold soup and coffee for lunch, and cold meat, potatoes and vegetables for supper while the toddler’s impatient demands to be fed are patiently met. Mothers sew, knit, or bake with many other hands trying to help her. Mothers begin their working day when they arise in the morning and it continues on far into the night. Mothers never get a holiday or time and a half for overtime and yet they are generally cheerful and self-sacrificing.
As the children become older, the mother’s work becomes more rigorous and demanding. Not only must she provide for physical needs but she must also concern herself with the spiritual needs of God’s heritage. She must often be a judge with the wisdom of a Solomon to settle petty disputes and quarrels. She must be prepared to love in the way of discipline. Indeed her calling as a mother is a high and glorious one. It is a full time calling as is that of a minister and teacher. They have more than enough work in the home and should not sacrifice their home in doing outside work. Raising God’s heritage must not be entrusted to the care of a substitute.
A mother in the church is a singing mother. She sings the songs of the Lord and His church. Her singing encourages the children to want to learn these songs and sing along with her. By her example, God’s children learn to love the songs of Zion as they learn to sing them.
A mother of God’s covenant seed is a praying mother. Daily she comes with boldness before the throne of grace requesting Divine wisdom to aid her in her difficult work. Daily she leads the little ones in prayer at lunch time. As her children increase in years she prays for their spiritual welfare, oftentimes with tears, as sins of youth become her increasing concern.
A Christian mother is a teaching mother. She teaches her children not only by her example, but also by actually instructing them about the heroes of faith. She teaches them to be obedient, to respect authority, to be reverent. She teaches her children about the promises of Jehovah. She teaches her children to memorize passages of God’s Word.
A mother of true believing Israel is diligent in administering discipline. She is firm in the use of the rod and in love punishes her children when the need arises. Oftentimes the punishment, when properly carried out, is much greater for mother than child. Just the idea that punishment was needed and that the sin of the child demanded judgment saddens a believing mother and makes the work of a mother that much more difficult.
Young people, some day some of you will be mothers and the rest of you will marry one. Would you want your children to treat you or your wife the way you treat your mothers? God, in love, gave you Christian mothers. So often a kind word from you would really brighten her day and yet so often you let these opportunities slip by. I’m afraid that a mother’s rewards on this earth are often severely limited by the thoughtlessness of her children.
St. Augustine in later life finally became aware of the profound influence exerted by his mother on his own life. In his Confessions he writes,
“My God, I pray you to accept my confessions and also the gratitude I bear you for all the many things which I pass over in silence. But I will omit not a word . . . concerning your servant, my mother. In the flesh she brought me to birth in this world: in her heart she brought me to birth in your eternal light. It is not of her gifts that I shall speak, but of the gifts you gave to her. For she was neither her own maker nor her own teacher. It was you who made her . . . . It was you who taught her to obey her parents. And yet, O God, who made us both, how could there be any comparison between the honor which I showed to her and the devoted service she had given me? Then little by little, my old feeling about your handmaid came back to me. I thought of her devoted love for you and the tenderness and patience she had shown to me …. For this was the mother, now dead and hidden awhile from my sight, who had wept over me for many years so that I might live in your sight.”
Augustine’s Confessions, Book IX
On his deathbed Augustine remembered his mother with sorrow and regret. “Yes, little Mother, and you are there (in the New Jerusalem, J.K.), you whose heart I ruptured ten thousand times, you who watered your pallet with rivers of tears . . .”
Son of Tears by Henry Coray, p. 314
More consideration for mother and her difficult work would make her life much more pleasant. She deserves all the praise and love you can possibly give her.