As I continue this series on God’s love, I’ve decided to go out of order this week from my original posts because of the special day it was this past Sunday: Mother’s Day! One of the ways that God loves us is as a mother loves her child. I love this analogy because it’s one I get. I don’t know much about shepherds, mother hens, or even artists, really. I do know how much I love my three children.
If you’ve been raised in a super conservative church like I was, you might bristle a bit at this metaphor. God is being compared to a mother? A woman? That smacks too much of liberal feminist theology. For those of you who have this thought running in your head, let me go to Scripture first. Isaiah 66:13 says, speaking from God’s point of view, “As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you; And you will be comforted in Jerusalem.” The original analogy in this chapter is that Jerusalem is like a nursing mother, but in this last verse, He compares Himself to a mother. Although God is depicted throughout Scripture as a male, there is an aspect of the mother-love that He created that mirrors a part of His own love.
According to research, mothers tend to be lighter sleepers than fathers are when their baby is sleeping, they interact more with their infants than the fathers do, and they tend to enjoy taking care of their babies and toddlers (even when it comes to changing diapers and caring for them when they’re sick) more than fathers do. In fact, babies and toddlers tend to prefer their mother’s comforting and playing more than their father’s, perhaps because mothers tend to be more attentive and responsive to the child’s sounds and movement. This is a generalization, and of course, many individuals will defy the norm. I’m a good example in one area. Once I stopped nursing my children, Greg woke up (and still does) much faster when our children made the slightest sound, while I placidly continued sleeping. (In my defense, after so many years of direct screams in my ears by one particularly loud young lady, I believe my ears are damaged.) Even if there are exceptions, we all know from experience that there’s something different about a mother’s love and a father’s love. Mothers are on the whole more nurturing, caring, and comforting to children than fathers are.
Do you picture God this way? Can you imagine Him pulling you up on His lap, quieting your tears as He gently rocks you? God’s love is tender and compassionate (James 5:11). After reading all the glowing tributes to mothers on Facebook Sunday and Monday, I can see that many mothers have loved their children well. Picture the finest example of motherhood you can imagine and realize God’s compassionate mother-love for us is stronger and better than the best mother here on earth. Where your mother may have failed you in one way or another (and what mother doesn’t fail sometimes?), God never will.
Isaiah 49:15 imagines a mother who has failed: “Can a woman forget her nursing child And have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget…” but God says although an earthly mother may fail, “I will not forget you.” God loves us more than a mother can love her child. When I think of the love I have for my own children, and I try to imagine a greater love than that directed at me from God Himself, I am truly amazed.
May you have a better understanding of this motherly love from God today and bask in it, leaning on Him for the comfort and compassion you need!