The Momma Hall of Fame
- Erin Davis
- 2012 6 Jun
From breastfeeding anxieties to toddler tantrums to the teenage years, all moms know the value of connecting with other moms. We need each other. There’s just something encouraging about hearing “I’ve been there and it doesn’t last,” or “You’re not alone, that’s normal.”
Perhaps that’s why I take such comfort in the stories of moms in the Bible. They aren’t super-women who mothered flawlessly and raised perfect children. Quite the opposite! The moms of the Bible are just like you and me. They made mistakes. They sinned. Their children sinned. They served God imperfectly, and yet their stories of making a difference in God’s Kingdom primarily through their roles as mothers are woven throughout the greatest book ever written. Here are a few of my favorites, which serve to remind us that raising children, however imperfectly, is truly Kingdom work.
Sarah became a mother in her nineties. Her son, Isaac, was a fulfillment of God’s promise to build nations through Sarah and her husband, Abraham. But Sarah was impatient with the promises of God. She tried to make motherhood work according to her own agenda. There’s a lesson for us all in the outcome, but ultimately God multiplied her mothering efforts to number more that the stars in the sky (Genesis 15:5).
Bathsheba became a mom under difficult circumstances. After King David saw her on the roof and called her to his bedroom in the palace, she learned she was carrying a child that did not belong to her husband. Upon news of her pregnancy, David had Bathsheba’s husband killed. As a result of David’s sin, the child they conceived died.
These are mothering circumstances that would make any of us throw up our hands in defeat. Bathsheba went on to give birth to Solomon who became the wisest man in all of Israel. We can assume that Solomon’s mother had something to do with his vast knowledge about God. Mothering was hard for Bathsheba and it came at a heavy price, but her loss was not her legacy.
Hannah is another momma whose story keeps my heart in check. Hannah could not get pregnant and desperately wanted a baby, so she went to the temple and wept and cried out so intensely to the Lord that the priest thought she was drunk. Hannah was so desperate to become a mom that she promised God that if He would give her a son, she would dedicate that son to His service in the temple. When Hannah’s longed-for baby boy arrived, Hannah made a mothering decision more difficult than any I’ve ever had to make—she kept her promise.
The Bible tells us that she raised her miraculous firstborn son only until he was weaned, and then she took him to live with Samuel, the priest. We have proof that Hannah still tenderly mothered the baby she could not keep because the Bible tells us that every year Hannah took her boy a “tiny coat.”
Author Dorothy Kelley Patterson gives this interpretation of why Hannah might have prayed for a son specifically, “Her request had been carefully fashioned in her mind and heart. She asked for a male child because she wanted to give that child back to the Lord to use in a special way. Her maternity, that nurturing instinct in her heart, responded, ‘Lord, this son will be my gift to you.’”
Hannah first ached for a son and then had to deal with living without him, teaching us a difficult lesson about motherhood indeed: that parenting is not about personal pay-off, but about serving our Heavenly Father.
Jochebed Exodus 2)
Jochebed gave birth to a son at a time when doing so was illegal. She kept him a secret as long as she could, but eventually she made the difficult choice to place her baby in a basket and hope for the best. That baby was rescued by the Pharaoh’s daughter and became the great leader of the people of Israel long after his adopted mother named him, “Moses.” Jochebed mothered in times that were hostile toward motherhood. She valued motherhood above her own safety, security, or reputation. And God honored Jochebed’s mother-heart, for when Pharaoh’s daughter needed a wet nurse for Moses, Jochebed got the job. She got to look at that tiny profile while nursing and whisper to him about the God of Israel after all.
King Lemuel’s Mother (Proverbs 31)
Proverbs 31 is a well-known passage about biblical womanhood, but there’s a little snippet of the passage that most of us miss.
Verse 1 simply says, “The words of King Lemuel. An oracle his mother taught him.”
Proverbs 31 is really an inside look into a conversation or a series of conversations between a mother and her son. We don’t know her name, but we do know that King Lemuel’s mother taught him wisdom that would carry him for the rest of his life. The Proverbs 31 mom shows us what our own legacy can be. I’m sure she changed diapers and made sacrifices and wrestled with unmet expectations. But ultimately, she made it into the pages of the Bible because she taught her son about God and righteous living.
A Common Theme
What’s the theme we find in the lives of these mommas? Their children were their legacy. The same is true for us.
Psalm Psalms 127:3 reminds us, “Children are a heritage from the LORD, offspring a reward from him.”
Raising children is Kingdom work. You cannot do it perfectly, but neither did the moms of the Bible, and we are still feeling the impact of their efforts. In unison, they remind us that there is much more at stake than what we can see clearly in the daily grind of our role. There is strength and encouragement to be found in their stories as they whisper to all moms, “Press on!”
Erin Davis is the founder of Graffiti Ministries, an organization dedicated to addressing the issues of identity, worth, and true beauty in the lives of young women. A popular speaker, author and blogger, Erin has addressed women of all ages nationwide and is passionately committed to sharing God's Truth with others. She is the author of several books including Graffiti, True Princess, The Bare Facts coauthored with Josh McDowell, and her latest release Beyond Bath Time: Re-imagining Motherhood as a Sacred Role (Moody Publishers, April 2012). Erin and her husband, Jason, work with youth and families at their church in Southwest Missouri. They are the parents of two adorable boys, Eli and Noble.
Publication date: June 21, 2012