Most childless people struggle with Mother’s and Father’s Days. It is an unfortunate but understandable part of the grief of not having the children we wanted. It’s even harder in church services for us to applaud those who get the life—and children—we hoped for.
That’s why I think we’re better off focusing on God, instead of parents, for Mother’s and Father’s Day church services.
The best Mother’s Day service I ever attended was one where our pastor—a wife and mother—preached about God’s motherly traits. She didn’t do the dreaded motherhood glorification or pronatalism-meets-Christianity spiels. She didn’t even do a spiritual-mothering afterthought.
She just talked about God being like a mother to us. How refreshing.
‘Why don’t we do this more often?’ I wondered. And I think we should.
She talked about God being like a mother to us.
So here are some ways we can talk about God’s motherly and fatherly traits, not just to sidestep the whole awkward-acknowledgement-of-mothers-and-fathers-without-excluding-childless-people thing, but to refocus our praise where it is most deserving: on God, the mother and father of all creation.
God’s fatherly love for us
John 14:21-23—Jesus says, ‘“The person who knows my commandments and keeps them, that’s who loves me. And the person who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and make myself plain to him.”’ (MSG)
God’s motherly love for and compassion toward us
Isaiah 49:13-16—‘Heavens, raise the roof! Earth, wake the dead! Mountains, send up cheers! God has comforted his people. He has tenderly nursed his beaten-up, beaten-down people. But Zion said, “I don’t get it. God has left me. My Master has forgotten I even exist.” “Can a mother forget the infant at her breast, walk away from the baby she bore? But even if mothers forget, I’d never forget you—never. Look, I’ve written your names on the backs of my hands.”’ (MSG)
Isaiah 66:13—God says, ‘“As a mother comforts her child, so I’ll comfort you. You will be comforted in Jerusalem.”’ (MSG)
’”As a mother comforts her child, so I’ll comfort you.”’
God as a protective mother
Deuteronomy 32:10-11—‘[God] found [Israel] out in the wilderness, in an empty, windswept wasteland. He threw his arms around him, lavished attention on him, guarding him as the apple of his eye. He was like an eagle hovering over its nest, overshadowing its young, then spreading its wings, lifting them into the air, teaching them to fly.’ (MSG)
Jesus as a protective mother
Luke 13:34—Jesus says, ‘“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, killer of prophets, abuser of the messengers of God! How often I’ve longed to gather your children, gather your children like a hen, her brood safe under her wings—but you refused and turned away!”’ (MSG)
God as a nurturing parent
Hosea 11:1-4—God speaking: ‘“When Israel was only a child, I loved him. I called out, ‘My son!’—called him out of Egypt. But when others called him, he ran off and left me. He worshiped the popular sex gods, he played at religion with toy gods. Still, I stuck with him. I led Ephraim. I rescued him from human bondage, but he never acknowledged my help, never admitted that I was the one pulling his wagon, that I lifted him, like a baby, to my cheek, that I bent down to feed him.”’ (MSG)
’”I lifted him, like a baby, to my cheek…I bent down to feed him.”’
There’s more, which I’ll share in Part 2 next week. But in these six scriptures we’ve seen God as a loving father, as a nurturing and compassionate mother, as a protector and helper, and as a faithful parent.
What wonderful qualities our God has. What a beautiful God.
Have you thought about God as a mother and father before? Have you considered Jesus as a nurturing mother? How does this change or clarify your picture of God? Share your story. Let’s have a countercultural conversation.