The task of raising children requires great vision, faith, and great perseverance on behalf of parents. There is no other task in all the world which demands such great day-to-day concentration, discipline, and selflessness with so few instant rewards. Moms, letís face it, no matter how much time you give to your children, no matter how focused you are on being ďMom Of The Year,Ē there are few times in their early years, while they are still living under your roof, that your children will rise up and ďcall you blessed.Ē If you think Iím being pessimistic then just ask yourself, when was the last time your child said, ďMom, I donít see how you do it. You work all day to help provide for our family then you come home and work so hard at making me feel so important. I really love you mom.Ē ďMom, you will never know how much I marvel at your selflessness. I know you are a brilliant woman, but for my sake you have chosen to stay home to be with me, to devote yourself to preparing me for life.Ē ďYou know dad and I appreciate the way you limit yourself at work so that you can be here with me in the evening. I appreciate the way you make me feel special by wanting to spend time with me instead of your friends.Ē ďSit down mom and dad, I want to honor you by praising you for what you do for me.Ē If your children have ever graced you with any of those words, or words along those lines, then you are truly blessed because that is not the norm, it is the exception.
The discipline of raising children can often be thankless. That is hard for many of us to come to accept. We are so use to receiving relatively instant gratification in most other areas of our life — we do well at work and they give us a raise or praise for a job well done. We do something around the house and our husband or wife takes us out to eat or gives a hug of appreciation. Mom, you prepare a good meal which takes hours to put together and your children say, ďCanít I have a corn dog instead?Ē See what I mean?
Parenting is difficult isnít it? Someone once said, ďIf it was going to be easy to raise kids, it never would have started with something called labor.Ē Along with the problem of our children not understanding our efforts and actions, many of us also suffer from feelings of guilt because we feel like we are always ďonĒ our kidsófor good reasons I might add, but we still feel guilty. Does it ever seem to you like you are a drill sergeant who barks out orders and is constantly trying to get the troops in line?
Is it any wonder that many parents whoíve begun with the best of intensions have simply thrown up their hands and given up? Mom, if youíve said, ďWhatís the use?Ē or if you are contemplating giving up, Iíve come to encourage you this morning. Your efforts are not in vain. Keep sowing the seeds of faith, keep tilling the seed bed of your childrenís heart, keep showering them with love, forgiveness, and discipline, keep teaching your kids about the Lordís will, integrity, commitment, and character, and God will bless youóeven if your kids reject what you are teaching them.
This morning I want to encourage the motherís among us who are struggling. Youíve given your all to teaching your kids about the Lord, youíve prayed for your children to love the Lord with all of their heart, and yet you do not see the fruit of your prayers and efforts. You are not alone mom. Let me share the stories of some other mothers who could testify that they know how you feel.
First, let me introduce you to a woman, we donít even know her name, but she was a godly woman, an infertile woman who wanted to have children, but she was childless. In her day, not having children was a huge stigma to bear. In Judges 13 we meet her. Read along with me.
2A certain man of Zorah, named Manoah, from the clan of the Danites, had a wife who was sterile and remained childless. 3The angel of the LORD appeared to her and said, “You are sterile and childless, but you are going to conceive and have a son. 4Now see to it that you drink no wine or other fermented drink and that you do not eat anything unclean, 5because you will conceive and give birth to a son. No razor may be used on his head, because the boy is to be a Nazirite, set apart to God from birth, and he will begin the deliverance of Israel from the hands of the Philistines.” (Judges 13:2-5 NIV)
Can you imagine the joy that she must have felt! She was childless, but then the Lord showed up! Now she could look forward to the day when she would hold her son in her arms. He wouldnít be just any child in the nursery of the hospital, he would be ďset apartĒ for the Lord from birth. As her pregnancy progressed she must have had all kinds of thoughts about what her son would grow up to be one day. In Judges 13:24-25 we read about his birth.
24The woman gave birth to a boy and named him Samson. He grew and the LORD blessed him, 25 and the Spirit of the LORD began to stir him while he was in Mahaneh Dan, between Zorah and Eshtaol. (Judges 13:24-25 NIV)
ďAnd the Spirit of the LORD began to stir himÖĒ The excitement of Manoah and his wife must have been off the charts! What a life they had to look forward to. Their son was special, he was set apart to the Lord, and he would be a Judge in all of Israel. In the next chapter of Judges we read,
1Samson went down to Timnah and saw there a young Philistine woman. 2When he returned, he said to his father and mother, “I have seen a Philistine woman in Timnah; now get her for me as my wife.” 3His father and mother replied, “Isn’t there an acceptable woman among your relatives or among all our people? Must you go to the uncircumcised Philistines to get a wife?” But Samson said to his father, “Get her for me. She’s the right one for me.” 4 (His parents did not know that this was from the LORD, who was seeking an occasion to confront the Philistines; for at that time they were ruling over Israel.) (Judges 14:1-4 NIV)
When Samson was a young man he developed a mind of his own. He saw a Philistine girl that he wanted to marry. A PHILISTINE GIRL? His mom and dad could not believe their ears! Samsonís mom and dad tried to talk him out of it. They tried to explain to him why it wasnít wise. The Philistines were the mortal enemies of the Jews, but Samson wouldnít listen to his parents. Can any of you relate? You tried to tell your son or daughter that the person they were dating or were talking about marrying was bad news, but they wouldnít listen to you. You did everything in your power to keep them from the oncoming heartache, but they wouldnít listen to you.
We have some background information on Samsonís love lifeóthe Lord was at work. I bet that didnít ease Manoah and his wifeís concern a whole lot. I mean if your son or daughter was in a bad relationship and you heard that the Lord was in it would that ease your concerns? Really?
Samson went on to judge Israel for 20 years and his life was nothing like his mom and dad thought it would be. He had problems with women. In Judges 16:1 we read that he went to Gaza to visit a prostitute. Not the kind of behavior we would expect from somebody set apart for the Lord, huh? Later, he had problems with another woman, a woman we know as Delilah. Bad news once again. Samsonís relationship with Delilah led to his capture by the Philistines.
Samsonís life ended after he had been captured by the Philistines. The Philistines were making sacrifices to their god, Dagon, for delivering Samson into their hands. They were having the party of a lifetime when they brought Samson out to entertain them. They put him between two huge pillars in the temple of Dagon and Samson prayed to the Lord that He would give him the strength to die with the Philistines. Samson pushed the pillars until he brought the house down. The last verse of Judges 16 is so sad as we read,
31Then his brothers and his father’s whole family went down to get him. They brought him back and buried him between Zorah and Eshtaol in the tomb of Manoah his father. He had led Israel twenty years. (Judges 16:31 NIV)
Do you think that the reality of motherhood exceeded the expectations Samsonís mom had when she was rocking her baby boy? I hardly think so. I have a hard time believing that the dreams she had when her son was young met what she experienced after her son grew up and acted so foolishly.
Let me introduce you to another woman who felt the deep pains of motherhood. Maacah was one of King Davidís wives. She was the daughter of a foreign King, the King of Geshur. Geshur was a district of Syria located between Mount Hermon and the Sea of Galilee. When David was King over Judah, before he became King over all of Israel, the King of Geshur, Talmai, gave his daughter, Maacah, to be Davidís wife. It was no doubt a political alliance, but Maacah and David had three children together: Absalom, Hanan, and Tamar.
Maacahís daughter, Tamar, was raped by one of Davidís other sons, a boy named Amnon, the daughter of Ahimoam, one of Davidís other wives. If youíve ever had a child who was sexually abused then you know the pain that pierces a parentís heart in imagining the agony theyíve gone through. If that pain werenít enough for Maacah she also had to deal with the reality that her husband didnít do anything about it. We read in 2 Samuel 13:21-22.
21 When King David heard all this, he was furious. 22 Absalom never said a word to Amnon, either good or bad; he hated Amnon because he had disgraced his sister Tamar. (2 Samuel 13:21-22 NIV)
David was furious, but he didnít do anything about it. Maacahís heartache was compounded by her husbandís lack of initiative in righting the wrong done to her daughter. If her husband wouldnít act, then who would? Maacahís son, Absalom, was devastated, he was speechless. Read verse 22 with me again.
22 Absalom never said a word to Amnon, either good or bad; he hated Amnon because he had disgraced his sister Tamar. (2 Samuel 13:22 NIV)
In the next verse we read that two years went by. Two years of the silent treatment. Two years of David not doing anything. Two years of a motherís heart being broken and a daughter feeling the shame of being raped by her half-brother. The anger in Absalom finally built to a crescendo and he avenged the rape of his sister by killing his brother Amnon.
Tamarís rape had been avenged, but Iím certain that Maacah didnít find any consolation in the death of Amnon. Her son had only complicated things, made things worse, if they could have been any worse. The story doesnít end there though. Absalom flees to his grandfatherís house and his motherís heart continued to weep for her children.
Are there any momís who can relate? Does your heart ever weep for your children and the decisions they are making in life? I know so many mothers who feel what I am talking about this morning. I had one in my office just last week. Her son has moved out of her house, there is a breach in their relationship, and the pain is so great that she has taken down his pictures because she canít bear to look at them. Her only son has brought her such sorrow and she would do anything to change their situation, to see reconciliation take place, but she canít.
Maacahís heartache didnít ease up; it only got worse as her sonís anger consumed him. Absalom set his sights on deposing his own father from the throne. Absalom won the hearts of the people and turned them against his father. In 2 Samuel 15:14 we read,
14 Then David said to all his officials who were with him in Jerusalem, “Come! We must flee, or none of us will escape from Absalom. We must leave immediately, or he will move quickly to overtake us and bring ruin upon us and put the city to the sword.” (2 Samuel 15:14 NIV)
This is his son! His own son is seeking to destroy him! Can you imagine what was going through Maacahís mind? Later, Davidís men set out to capture Absalom and David had told them not to harm Absalom, but they knew the threat he was to his dad so they killed him. We read about Davidís deep sorrow in 2 Samuel 18:33 when he finds out that his son is dead.
33 The king was shaken. He went up to the room over the gateway and wept. As he went, he said: “O my son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you– O Absalom, my son, my son!” (2 Samuel 18:33 NIV)
We donít read about Maacahís response to her sonís death. At first I thought this was really strange, but after Iíve read the story time and time again I find the silence deafening. I know momís who love their children with all of their heart. I know momís who have given their all to raise their children right, but their children have made decisions that have broken their heart. Iíve been with motherís who have lost a child and Iíve seen firsthand how they react. I donít need to read how Maacah responded to Absalomís death to know how she responded. She was devastated. She never dreamed that her heart could break any worse than it had already, but she found out differently.
Inherent in motherhood is heartache. Iím not just referring to you motherís who have children who have rebelled against you or against the Lord. Iím referring to all mothers. There will be times that your hearts will be broken because of something your child does or because of things that are done to them. I read Luke 2 this past week about when Jesusí mother and father took Him to the Temple for purification purposes. As they approached the Temple there was a godly old man there named Simeon. Read along with me beginning in verse 28.
28Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: 29 “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. 30 For my eyes have seen your salvation, 31which you have prepared in the sight of all people, 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.” 33The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. 34Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.” (Luke 2:28-35 NIV)
Did you hear the last line of Simeonís praise of God for His gift? Heís speaking to Mary when he says, ďAnd a sword will pierce your own soul too.Ē I wonder if Mary thought that was odd? She was holding the promised Messiah in her arms, what could possibly be better than that? How could her soul be pierced with such a wonderful gift lying in her arms? Mary didnít know that sorrow is part of being a mother.
Mary didnít have a rebellious child. Jesus was different than Samson and Absalom. He didnít have a penchant for women like Samson. He didnít suffer from anger issues like Absalom. He was God in the flesh. His was the perfect Son. The Son every mother dreams of having, but Maryís soul would be pierced nonetheless. Have you ever wondered how Mary felt when she learned that Herod was trying to kill her Son? Or how she felt when she learned that all of the little boys around Bethlehem who were 2 and under were killed by Herod because he was trying to get to Jesus?
Was Maryís soul pierced when she found out that the religious leaders saw her Son as a threat? How did she feel when her Son suffered persecution from the hands of her own neighbors or when her other kids thought that Jesus had lost His mind? Mary was there standing at the foot of the cross when her Son was nailed like a common criminal for crimes He did not commit? Was her soul pierced then? In John 19:25-27 we read about what took place when Jesus was hanging on the cross.
25 Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Dear woman, here is your son,” 27and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home. (John 19:25-27 NIV)
Was Maryís soul pierced when she heard these words coming from her Son? You better believe her soul was pierced! Mary stands in a long line of moms whoíve had their soul pierced by the pains suffered by their children. From my conversations with moms it doesnít matter if their child has brought the pain on themselves because of their bad decisions or if theyíve suffered because of other meansótheir souls grieve and ache over their children. This has been true throughout history mom.
Back in 1897, a mother was worried about her son. Jennie worried about her son because he didnít seem to have any ambition whatsoever. She worried so much that on February 26, 1897, she sat down and wrote her son a letter. She wrote, ďYou seem to have no real purpose in life and won’t realize at the age of twenty-two that for a man life means work, and hard work if you mean to succeed.Ē (Jennie Jerome Churchill (1854-1921), mother of Winston Churchill. Letter, 26 Feb. 1897, to Winston Churchill (published in Ralph G. Martin, Jennie, vol. 2, 1971). Jennieís fears were later quieted as her son took her advice and worked hard to leave his mark on the annals of history.
Some mothers have their soul pierced because of health issues their children have to deal with in life. One such mother was Mrs. Rudolf. Her daughter, Wilma, was born in Clarksville, Tennessee, and suffered from an illness that left her unable to walk at age 4. Wilma wasnít able to walk until she was 8 years old, yet she had a mother who nurtured her day-in and day-out. Her mother planted the seed in young Wilmaís mind that she could be anything she wanted to be when she grew up. Well, Wilma did grow up. She became an outstanding basketball player in high school and competed as a runner in the 1960 Olympic Games at Rome. Wilma Rudolf not only competed in the 1960 Olympics in Rome, but she won the women’s 100-meter and 200-meter dash and anchored 400-meter relay team which took home the gold medal. For every Wilma Rudolf who overcomes their health issues there are 10,000 kids who never see the victorís platform. Motherís ache over the health issues of their kids donít you mom?
For every Winston Churchill or Wilma Rudolf whose parents finally saw the light at the end of the tunnel there are countless parents who still feel like they are living in the darkest night of their life. I want to encourage you this morning to not give up the fight. You keep praying mom. You keep loving your son or daughter. You keep trusting the Lord for their future. God will bless you for your faithfulness. Donít give up the fight. We have no idea what the future holds for our children, but we know that the Lord loves our kids more than we do and that He alone can turn their hearts around. Donít give up.
One such mom who never gave up is Ruth. She and her husband were committed Christians, world-renown followers of Jesus, but their son couldnít care less about spiritual matters. As a matter of fact, their son tended to walk on the wild side instead of walking with God. They continued to pray and love him even though their hearts were broken by their son over and over again. Finally, one day God touched the heart of their son and he renounced his life of rebellion and chose to walk with God. Today Franklin Graham, the son of Billy and Ruth Graham, heads up one of the worlds most compassionate ministries, Samaritanís Purse, which reaches out to thousands of people in difficult situations with the Gospel.
Mom, you are not just biding your time till your young ones leave the nest, you are preparing Godís ambassadors to touch the world for the Kingdom! What a thought! Never give up, never give up, never give up! Keep caring when nobody cares that you care. Keep loving even when those you love donít seem to love you. Keep pointing your kids to the King even when they turn away! Leave your kids a legacy of faith which will carry them throughout their life.
There is another side to this sermon which is necessary for all of us to hear before we leave here this morning. For those of us who are still able to bless our parents, the time is now. Donít wait until later, donít wait until they deserve it, donít wait for anything — bless your mother while you can.
I was at my sonís graduation at UCO last Saturday when the President of the University, Dr. Roger Webb, gave the commencement address. He talked about how most commencement addresses heís ever heard werenít remembered. He spoke about some of the clichťs that are offered to graduates and then he said, ďI want to urge you to do one thingócall your mom.Ē He told us that his mom was the driving force behind his pursuit of education and that when he became the President of the University of Central Oklahoma he called his mom to let her know. He called her to say, ďThanks.Ē Unbeknownst to Dr. Webb, later in the day, his mother would slip into a coma and he would never have the opportunity to talk to her again. Call your mom today. There will come a time when you will no longer be able to call her and thank her for all that she has done for you so call her now. As soon as you leave here call her, or if she lives in town, go by to give her a hug and thank her. Proverbs 23 says,
Make your father and mother happy; give your mother a reason to be glad. (Proverbs 23:25 NCV)
We need to bless our mothers while we can, we need to make them glad because they see the Lord working through our lives, we need to bring joy to their hearts by letting them know that we appreciate the way in which they have blessed us. If you are thinking, ďMy mother was a loser, she never showed me any love at all,Ē then bless her because she was Godís instrument to bring you into this world. God used your mother to give you birth, bless her!
What a joy it is to celebrate Motherís Day. The greatest gift you can give your mother on this day is to bless her in the name of our Lord. Rise up and call her blessed all the days of her life!
Britton Christian Church
922 NW 91st
Oklahoma City, OK. 73114
May 13, 2007