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, let’s face it, no matter how much time you give to your children, no matter how focused you are on being “Mom Of The Year,” there are few times in their early years, while they are still living under your roof, that your children will rise up and “call you blessed.” If you think I’m being pessimistic then just ask yourself, when was the last time your child said, “Mom, I don’t 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.” “Mom, 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.” “You 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.” “Sit down mom and dad, I want to honor you by praising you for what you do for me.” 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, “Can I have a corn dog instead?” See what I mean?
Parenting is difficult isn’t it? Someone once said, “If it was going to be easy to raise kids, it never would have started with something called labor.” 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 “on” our kids—for 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 who’ve begun with the best of intensions have simply thrown up their hands and given up? Mom, if you’ve said, “What’s the use?” or if you are contemplating giving up, I’ve 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 children’s heart, keep showering them with love, forgiveness, and discipline, keep teaching your kids about the Lord’s will, integrity, commitment, and character, and God will bless you—even if your kids reject what you are teaching them.
This morning I want to encourage the mothers among us who are struggling. You’ve given your all to teaching your kids about the Lord, you’ve 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 don’t 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)
A Mother Dreams for Her Son
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 wouldn’t be just any child in the nursery of the hospital, he would be “set apart” 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)
“And the Spirit of the LORD began to stir him…” 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,
1 Samson went down to Timnah and saw there a young Philistine woman. 2 When 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.” 3 His 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)
A Mind of Their Own
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! Samson’s mom and dad tried to talk him out of it. They tried to explain to him why it wasn’t wise. The Philistines were the mortal enemies of the Jews, but Samson wouldn’t 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 wouldn’t listen to you. You did everything in your power to keep them from the oncoming heartache, but they wouldn’t listen to you.
We have some background information on Samson’s love life—the Lord was at work. I bet that didn’t ease Manoah and his wife’s 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. Samson’s relationship with Delilah led to his capture by the Philistines.
Samson’s 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 Samson’s 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.
A Mother’s Broken Heart
Let me introduce you to another woman who felt the deep pains of motherhood. Maacah was one of King David’s 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 David’s wife. It was no doubt a political alliance, but Maacah and David had three children together: Absalom, Hanan, and Tamar.
Maacah’s daughter, Tamar, was raped by one of David’s other sons, a boy named Amnon, the daughter of Ahimoam, one of David’s other wives. If you’ve ever had a child who was sexually abused then you know the pain that pierces a parent’s heart in imagining the agony they’ve gone through. If that pain weren’t enough for Maacah she also had to deal with the reality that her husband didn’t 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 didn’t do anything about it. Maacah’s heartache was compounded by her husband’s lack of initiative in righting the wrong done to her daughter. If her husband wouldn’t act, then who would? Maacah’s 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 mother’s 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.
Tamar’s rape had been avenged, but I’m certain that Maacah didn’t 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 doesn’t end there though. Absalom flees to his grandfather’s house and his mother’s heart continued to weep for her children.
Are there any moms 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 a mother like this in my office. 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 can’t 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 can’t.
Maacah’s heartache didn’t ease up; it only got worse as her son’s 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 Maacah’s mind? Later, David’s 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 David’s 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 don’t read about Maacah’s response to her son’s death. At first I thought this was really strange, but after I’ve read the story time and time again I find the silence deafening. I know mothers who love their children with all of their heart. I know moms who have given their all to raise their children right, but their children have made decisions that have broken their heart. I’ve been with mothers who have lost a child and I’ve seen firsthand how they react. I don’t need to read how Maacah responded to Absalom’s death to know how she responded. She was devastated. She never dreamed that her heart could break any worse than it had already been broken, but she found out differently.
Inherent in motherhood is heartache. I’m not just referring to you mothers who have children who have rebelled against you or against the Lord. I’m 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 Jesus’ mother and father took Him to the Temple for purification purposes after He had been circumcised. As they approached the Temple there was a godly old man there named Simeon. Read along with me beginning in verse 28.
28 Simeon 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, 31 which you have prepared in the sight of all people, 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.” 33 The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. 34 Then 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, 35 so 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 Simeon’s praise for the gift God had given? He’s speaking to Mary when he says, “And a sword will pierce your own soul too.” 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 didn’t know that sorrow is part of being a mother.
The Perfect Son and a Mother’s Pierced Soul
Mary didn’t have a rebellious child. Jesus was different than Samson and Absalom. He didn’t have a penchant for women like Samson. He didn’t 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 Mary’s 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 Mary’s 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. 26 When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Dear woman, here is your son,” 27 and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home. (John 19:25-27 NIV)
Was Mary’s 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 who’ve had their soul pierced by the pains suffered by their children. From my conversations with moms it doesn’t matter if their child has brought the pain on themselves because of their bad decisions or if they’ve suffered because of other means—their 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 didn’t 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, “You 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.” (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). Jennie’s 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 wasn’t 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 Wilma’s 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 sprinter 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 100,000 kids who never see the victor’s platform. Mothers ache over the health issues of their kids don’t 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. Don’t 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. Don’t 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 couldn’t 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 world’s most compassionate ministries, Samaritan’s Purse, as well as his father’s ministry, the “Billy Graham Evangelistic Ministries.”
Never Give Up!
Mom, you are not just biding your time till your young ones leave the nest, you are preparing God’s 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 don’t 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 mothers, the time is now. Don’t wait until later, don’t wait until they deserve it, don’t wait for anything — bless your mother while you can.
I was at a graduation ceremony at UCO a few years ago when the President of the University gave the commencement address. He talked about how most commencement addresses he’s ever heard weren’t remembered. He spoke about some of the clichés that are offered to graduates and then he said, “I want to urge you to do one thing—call your mom.” 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, “Thanks.” 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 and 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, “My mother was a loser, she never showed me any love at all,” then bless her because she was God’s instrument to bring you into this world. God used your mother to give you birth, bless her!
What a joy it is to celebrate Mother’s 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, 2012