Like many special days, national holidays, and periods of celebration, Mother’s Day has an interesting history. The movement to establish a day to recognize and celebrate the impact and influence of mothers in the United States began in the late 19th century as a result of the work of two women: Ann Reeves Jarvis and Julia Ward Howe (History.com, 2019). Anna Jarvis, daughter of Ann Reeves Jarvis, organized the first official Mother’s Day celebration in May 1908 at a Methodist church in Grafton, West Virginia (History.com, 2019). A few years later, in 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation establishing the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day in the United States of America (History.com, 2019). In his Mother’s Day Proclamation of 1914, President Wilson stated, “Now, therefore, I, Woodrow Wilson, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the said Joint Resolution, do hereby direct the government officials to display the United States flag on all government buildings and do invite the people of the United States to display the flag at their homes or other suitable places on the second Sunday in May as a public expression of our love and reverence for the mothers of our country” (Wilson, 2019, para. 3). Fittingly, President Wilson directed that Mother’s Day should be celebrated through expressions of patriotism – recognizing the crucial impact and influence of mothers on the character and future of the nation.
Mothers, like Fathers, have a difficult job. They are called by God to raise, teach, and care for their children. Above all, mothers are given the sacred task of teaching their children about the Lord and pointing the way to God. As Proverbs 22:6 states, “train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” While the task committed to mothers is a challenging one, it is also one of supreme importance.
The Bible is full of examples of godly mothers who model this remarkable calling. In Exodus 2:1-10, the Bible describes the actions of Jochebed, the mother of Moses. Jochebed faced what seemed in all respects an impossible situation. Pharaoh had ordered that all of the male Israelite children in Egypt should be killed. Jochebed knew that if she kept her young son any longer she would not be able to protect him from Pharaoh’s soldiers. With remarkable faith and trust in the power and faithfulness of God to protect her dear, sweet child, she carefully prepared for him a basket – effectively, an ark – and placed the child in it. She demonstrated great courage and selflessness by casting Moses, as a young, helpless baby boy, into the waters of the Nile.
In this act of courage, faith, and love are several important lessons about motherhood. First, Jochebed did what she knew by faith was best for her child, even when it went against the counsel and conventional wisdom of everyone else in society. Any objective by-stander would have looked on with horror as this mother placed her son in the Nile River – a powerful body of water replete with dangers. And yet Jochebed did not bow to the pressures or opinions of others in society – she followed the Lord’s direction and trusted Him to provide. Mothers often have to defy conventional wisdom and stand up to tremendous pressure to do what’s best for their children. This is a task of motherhood rarely recognized or celebrated but critical to the protection and success of children.
In addition, Jochebed recognized that there were places her son must go that she could not follow. At the time, she had no idea of the destiny that awaited her son. She could never have imagined that her son would become a prince of Egypt – much less a great prophet of God! But she knew that she had to entrust her son to God’s care. She knew that life had placed them in a situation where she had to let go of him – at least temporarily – and trust God to bring him safely to where he needed to be. As young boys and girls grow into young men and women, mothers recognize that they have to lovingly let go and allow their children to grow up and embrace the calling and future that God has appointed for them. Again, this is a rarely recognized act of mothers, but one that is heroic, selfless, and God-honoring.
Finally, even after letting go in this incredible act of faith, Jochebed was blessed by God and continued to care for her dear son. After setting Moses out upon the Nile, he was miraculously discovered by Pharaoh’s daughter. As she looked into the carefully prepared basket, she had compassion on the young Hebrew boy. She saw that he was crying and that he needed care. As she beheld Moses, his sister was present and asked Pharaoh’s daughter if she wanted her to go and call one of the Hebrew women (who would end up being Jochebed, herself) to come and nurse the young Moses. Pharaoh’s daughter issued the command and God intervened to enable Jochebed to continue to lovingly and tenderly care for her dear son. As has often been said, there’s no love like the love of a mother. And God honors that love.
This Mother’s Day and every day, I am thankful for the selfless love, influence, and care of a godly and wonderful mother who exemplifies the characteristics described in Exodus 2:1-10 and throughout the Bible. She has lovingly and steadfastly cared for me, taught me, disciplined me, and invested in me for almost 30 years. I would not be the man I am today without her (and without my Dad, but we’ll talk about him on Father’s Day here in a few weeks 😊). While I am thankful to be able to celebrate this wonderful day with my Mom and my family, I also recognize that this is a very difficult day for many – either because your mother may no longer be with you or perhaps because you and your mother have a difficult relationship. The Lord understands both of these situations and blesses us in spite of the difficulties (and sometimes difficult relationships) we experience in life. I have friends who never knew their mother at all. However, God blessed these friends with surrogate mothers and other godly women who exhibited in their life these same characteristics of the godly, selfless mother exemplified in scripture. Today and every day, let’s celebrate and recognize the remarkable mothers God has placed in our lives. Let’s learn from them, honor them, and emulate them in ways that please God and bring honor both to Him and them.
Thank you, Mom. I love you.