The Maternal Heart of God

The Maternal Heart of God

It’s easy to meditate on God’s power, his might, his holiness, but you may miss some other facets of God’s character until you’re in the weeds. For me, I never contemplated how God “mothers” us until I became a mother myself.  As we prepare to celebrate Mother’s Day this year, we can benefit greatly by pausing on that concept.  

God has clearly revealed himself in Scripture as a Father.  And God is a good Father! It is one of the most permeating identities we have of him: His love and care for his people, the way he disciplines, how he leads like a shepherd, how he prepares a place for us in heaven. The apostle John celebrates the Fatherhood of God, and his excitement is almost permeable!  “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.” (1 Jn. 3:1)

And yet, we can also see the maternal heart of God.  Has God been patient with you as you’ve learned lessons the hard way? Has he repeated ad nauseum how much he loves you?  Has he been gentle and compassionate with you like a nursing mother with her baby (Isa. 49:15, 1 Thes. 2:7)?  Has he rejoiced over you with singing when you’ve obeyed and honored him (Zeph. 3:17)?  Has he comforted you like a mother when you are discouraged and distraught (Isa. 66:13)? Has he forgiven you when you’ve rebelled, not counting your sins against you but showing compassion you don’t deserve?  Has he gathered you and protected you like a mother hen her chicks (Mt. 23:37)?

These attributes are not unique to motherhood – many of them can and should be done by fathers as well!  But, mothers can echo God’s character in a unique way when they show gentleness in correction, presence in the day-to-day, practical gifts of grace, patience in repeating truth over and over again. While not exclusive to motherhood, these things characterize what many moms seek to give their children. And if you have received that from one or both of your parents, praise God – that’s straight from a God who loves giving good gifts! 

Yet, even with a reminder of these beautiful truths, it’s far too easy not to live them out – especially when the days are long and we are weary. In our COVID-19 day-to-day right now, we may feel as though we are too close to our families, and it is not a sweet thing! We may push away from the relationships in our home. We may hide behind a mountain of housework or media-binging because we fear what face-to-face vulnerability brings. 

If that is you right now, take heart – our sin comes boiling to the surface when life comes to a screeching change. Right now, in the weeds, God is parenting you.  On the days when your emotions cause you to doubt there’s anything good to come from this season of social distancing, stay-at-home, Zoom-centric norms… God is inviting you into deeper relationship with him and with the people he’s placed in your life. In the face of feeling overwhelmed, we can choose to love – not sappy, saccharine love, but honest and intentional love because that’s how God loves us. 

We are not serving a God who keeps his distance – but One who “became flesh and dwelt among us” (Jn 1:14).  He approached us in love and didn’t leave us in our quagmire. He washed our feet and provided food and rest for the weary. He is our everlasting Father, our gentle discipliner, the one who lavishes us with love and care.  Rejoice in him this Mother’s Day!