It may take you a moment to think of examples of mothers in the Bible. Apart from Mary, the mother of Jesus, the most famous biblical characters tend to be men. When we think of the Bible stories that everyone know, people like Jonah, Noah and David come to mind. Or we remember Matthew, Mark, Luke and John and discuss the writings of Paul.
A Host Of Inspiring Mothers
The truth is, there’s a whole host of inspiring mothers in the Bible, it’s just more often than not they weren’t the people writing their stories down or being written about. Thankfully there are a few accounts of incredible mothers written into Scripture that we can still read today. Women like Sarah, Rebecca, Hannah and Jochebed lived lives devoted to God and their stories can inspire us and move us in our own faith.
Mother’s In The Bible: Learning From Sarah’s Long Wait
We all have to walk through seasons of waiting. Sarah, wife of Abraham, was unable to conceive and reached old age without having any children. This is heartbreaking and a pain that many women today can still relate to.
In Genesis 15 we read that God promised Abraham that he would be the father of many. This pivotal moment is known as the Abrahamic covenant.
After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.”
But Abram said, “Sovereign Lord, what can You give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?” And Abram said, “You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.”
Then the word of the Lord came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son who is your own flesh and blood will be your heir.”
He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then He said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”
Abram believed the Lord, and He credited it to him as righteousness.
While Abraham is famous for his faith, Sarah is known for her doubt. When God repeats his covenant promise to Abraham over a decade later Sarah, overhearing the conversation, laughs.
“‘I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son.”
Now Sarah was listening at the entrance to the tent, which was behind him. Abraham and Sarah were already very old, and Sarah was past the age of childbearing. So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, “After I am worn out and my lord is old, will I now have this pleasure?’” Genesis 18:10-12
From Waiting To Joy
We can take so much encouragement from Sarah. She was 90 years old when God promised she would become a mother. In her humanity she doubted Him. It’s so easy for us to doubt the word of God, isn’t it?
In our brokenness we can expect things to happen on our timeline, forgetting that God sets the times and seasons. God’s word is superior to our physical truth.
When Sarah did give birth to a son she laughed again but this time with joy:
“Now the Lord was gracious to Sarah as He had said, and the Lord did for Sarah what He had promised. Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time God had promised him.
Abraham gave the name Isaac to the son Sarah bore him. When his son Isaac was eight days old, Abraham circumcised him, as God commanded him. Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him.
Sarah said, “God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.” And she added, “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.’” Genesis 21:1-6
Sarah’s story of becoming a mother is a striking reminder to us all of the power of God’s word. Even when it feels impossible, even when years and years have passed, God’s promises do not fade. Our God is a promise keeper; there is joy and laughter waiting for us all.
Mothers In The Bible: Learning From Naomi’s Unconventional Family
The story of Naomi and her daughter-in-law Ruth is a beautiful depiction of family.
The moment when Ruth, after losing her husband, chooses to go with her Naomi rather than return to her home is a poignant one:
“Then Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go back, each of you, to your mother’s home. May the Lord show you kindness, as you have shown kindness to your dead husbands and to me. May the Lord grant that each of you will find rest in the home of another husband.”…
At this they wept aloud again. Then Orpah kissed her mother-in-law goodbye, but Ruth clung to her. “Look,” said Naomi, “your sister-in-law is going back to her people and her gods. Go back with her.”
But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay.”’ Ruth 1:8-16
As Ruth clings to her mother-in-law and refuses to leave her we see a memorable example of the beauty of a God-authored family.
God’s Heart For Family
Naomi, the mother of two sons, has gained a daughter. Ruth, a widow, chooses to remain with the family she married into rather than return to her own home. This decision went against the grain at the time; we see Orpah, Naomi’s other daughter-in-law, returning home as society would have expected.
In staying with Naomi, Ruth reminds us that motherhood is not always by birth. God can nurture intimate, lasting relationships between mothers and daughter and mothers and sons without them being birth mothers. Mothers can be created by God-given relationships.
We, as the people of God, are adopted sons and daughters. We have been adopted into God’s family through the sacrifice Jesus made. Naomi, through forsaking custom to build a family with just her daughter-in-law, reveals God’s heart for family relationships that endure and thrive against the odds.
This story reminds us that God can build a family in unconventional ways. Take heart, mothers today, if your family story hasn’t yet been written.