I recently gave a talk on Mother’s Day, and my earnest hope was to exhort the women in attendance about the value God places on them. As women we can be hard on ourselves. I know as a mom I have often wondered, have I done enough—or have I done too much? How much help should I really have given for that school project? The picture below shows just how far I can go: yes, I am on the highway, rescuing sofa cushions that fell off my son and his friend’s pickup truck the summer he moved into his first apartment. They had not thought to tie them down, and I found them along the highway four days later. But I not only retrieved them, I washed and repaired them—a project that took days. Clearly, I sometimes have a hard time knowing when to let my children fend for themselves!
I wanted the women to know how much God values the love they pour out for their children and others. He gives us quite the shout-out in Scripture by actually comparing an aspect of His own love to that of a mother. Six hundred years before Christ was born, God wanted to give the Israelites a picture of how He would always be there for them, even despite their rebellion and grave disobedience. Through His prophet, Isaiah, He told them,
“As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.” Isaiah 66:13
This verse prompted me to research the word “comfort.” While Vine’s Dictionary of Bible Words defines compassion as having pity or mercy, comfort is a “calling to one’s side.” There seems to be an action involved. As defined here, comfort is not just a heart-felt emotion, it is a moving towards the hurting party. Isn’t that what women do? They show their compassion in action. God told the Israelites – if you want to see a glimpse of how I will comfort you, look at a mother. In essence, God was saying that we women are the image-bearers of His comfort, and He sees what we are doing. He sees us late at night tiredly nursing our baby, He sees us trying to say the right words to encourage our child who cannot read like the other children, He sees us trying to mend the broken teenage heart, and He sees us on our knees praying for them regardless of their age. He sees how we comfort, and then He compares our measures to His own.
Whether or not women have the official title of “mom” – I think they uniquely display this quality of God, comfort. We see many of them in Scripture. My favorite is Lazarus’ sister, Mary. Before Jesus was crucified, she poured expensive perfume on Him. The men around her mocked her for wasting such an expensive commodity, but Jesus said, “She has done a beautiful thing to me. She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial.” (Mark 14:6-8) While the disciples did not believe Him when He said He would soon die, Mary did. But more than that, she expressed her belief in action, by lavishly giving the most valuable thing she owned. I can only imagine how her outpouring of love comforted our Savior in the moments before His death.
Many women in my life have shown me comfort—my own mom, my sister, and many friends. They have given me amazing pictures of God’s compassion in action. They have modeled for me how I can comfort others, but most importantly they have given me some understanding of God’s most perfect comfort.
(If you are interested in listening to my entire talk, you can find it here: http://trygrace.org/messages/series/mothers-day-2017/77/ )