God and Mothers
I have been reading Genesis and was struck for the first time by how compassionate God is, and how He is a very present help in our present needs.* I was especially noticing how He cares for mothers. He meets with Hagar, an Egyptian servant, two times.
The first time she is pregnant and running from being mistreated unjustly, wandering in the wilderness. God speaks directly to her, one of the things being, “You shall call [the child’s] name Ishmael, because the LORD has listened to your affliction…” in which her response is “You are a God of seeing,” for she said, “Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.” After birthing her child, she is sent away because of Sarah’s anger and again is wandering in the wilderness. They are about to die of thirst so she leaves her son not being able to bear the sight of him dying. Then God hears the voice of the boy and says, “What troubles you, Hagar? Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the boy where he is. Up! Lift up the boy, and hold him fast with your hand, for I will make him into a great nation.” Then He opened Hagar’s eyes to a well of water to quench their thirst, and God was with the boy.
He meets with Sarah, the one who treated Hagar unjustly. “The LORD visited Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did to Sarah as he had promised.” Sarah, who was unable to have children all her life, bore a son in her barren womb, who was to be the father of a multitude of people. She is the mother of the nation of God.
Isaac marries Rebekah, and he prays for her, because she was barren. God grants his prayer and she conceives twin sons.
Then there is Leah and Rachel. Leah is humiliated often because she was not beautiful in the sight of men. “When the LORD saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb, but Rachel was barren.” She bares son after son, saying “Because the LORD has looked upon my affliction… because the LORD has heard that I am hated… This time I will praise the LORD.” Then God remembers Rachel and listens to her, and so He opens her womb. “God has taken away my reproach,” she says.
These are just the ways God has shown compassion to women, particularly mothers, in Genesis. There are several other stories of his compassion to the husbands of these women or other men, as well as many many other stories throughout the Bible. We see God fulfilling promises, seeing mothers’ affliction and unjust treatment, meeting with and saving those who do not serve him (such as Hagar who was an Egyptian), and valuing women’s ability to bear children and blessing that process.
I am reminded of God’s love and compassion for me and my children, reminded of His character of steadfast love and faithfulness, mercy and compassion, to us. He hears my voice, as well as the voices of my children. He hears the intercession of husbands for their wives. He sees us when we do not even know he is there. He truly is a God of seeing as Hagar said. I want this to be a reminder to us all today that God is trustworthy. We are not unnoticed. When the world says a career is more important than a family, we are seen by the Almighty God. Remember what he has done for you and remember who he was (and still is) in that; meditate on the Word of God which reveals His love and character. These women suffered still - Hagar suffered in the wilderness, Sarah suffered the shame of barrenness, Leah suffered neglect. . . but God meets them in it all.
And God has met us already in our greatest affliction of all, in our unmanageable sin and our misunderstandings of His character and love. We keep on doing the things we hate, and we keep trying to follow all the rules thinking we can save ourselves. But Jesus came, fully man and God, to reveal the true character of Yahweh God, to be the ultimate sacrifice for our sins, and to offer access to the Kingdom of God in our lives now, which is like a mustard seed planted and nourished which grows into a large tree sheltering the birds of the air.