Imagining moms in the Bible
by Pam Fields · Apr 20, 2023
The following text engages in what some call “holy imagination,” taking a Bible passage and imagining some of the circumstances surrounding it. It is not meant to replace the teaching of the text itself, but only to find possible implications that can then benefit others.
Have you ever stopped to think about the mothers—named and unnamed—in the Bible? Like, really stop and imagine their lives? When I do, it makes me smile. It’s pretty amazing that God uses moms like you and me to carry out His plan.
For instance, we all know the story of the feeding of the 5,000 (Matthew 14:13-21; Mark 6:31-44; Luke 9:12-17; John 6:1-14). Have you ever wondered about that scene, about how thousands of people sought out Jesus only to find themselves unprepared and hungry? But in John’s version, a boy had loaves and fish that day. Was it his lunch? Was he taking goods to market or delivering a meal to a sick friend? No matter the circumstances, there is a good chance that his mother packed that basket. Imagine that: She may have packed an ordinary food basket that Jesus used for a miracle.
Or what about Daniel, who was torn from his home in Judah when he was a simple teen and deposited into a foreign land (Daniel 1:3-6)? Not only that, but it was Babylon, a land opposed to all of the values and customs he had grown up with.
Even though Daniel’s mother is not explicitly written of, I can’t help but wonder if it was her years of influence and consistent training in their faith that allowed him to stand firm against the disregard for his God. I wonder if when Daniel was young, his mother was ever discouraged, overwhelmed, or simply so tired that she didn’t feel that she could continue. Yet, apparently, she did. Perhaps in that way, she trained him in the ways of the Lord and perseverance. Thinking about that possibility encourages me today.
When reading the book of Ruth, I can’t imagine Naomi’s pain in losing her husband and sons.
In addition to being alone, she probably felt the weight of caring for her daughters-in-law. She likely felt abandoned and filled with grief. So many scenarios had to be playing through in her mind, yet the men who would have been guiding and counseling her in the past were suddenly gone.
The decision to return to Judah perhaps wasn’t her first option or desire, but it was the best survival plan. Though her heart was heavy, she began her journey home, where the Lord had made provision for His people.
It might seem as if it were a simple decision, but I’m sure it was difficult to leave what she had come to know as home and where her most recent memories of better times were felt. She stepped forward.
Ruth was faced with a decision to follow her mother-in-law or return to her own people of Moab. But something drew her to Naomi, Naomi’s people, and Naomi’s God. There must have been some risk involved and an element of the unknown. There were no guarantees. However, as Ruth’s story unfolded, her tenacity to stay with Naomi and follow her instructions led to her eventual marriage to Boaz, which led to the birth of their son, Obed.
We don’t know the details of Ruth’s mothering journey. We can only assume that her days were like all mothers’ days: filled with diapers, teething, washing muddy feet, and pondering what her children would someday become.
I wonder if she imagined that the savior of humanity would, generations later, come through her son Obed. She couldn’t have known. But the commitment to mother her children day after day, through the monotony of motherhood, laid the path for the generations to come.
Moms carry on
Motherhood is an adventurous mystery when we think about it. We cannot foresee what our world will be like in 10 years or in 10 generations. We can be diligent in the calling we are given today: to engage with and pour into the family with which God has entrusted us. We carry on when the future is unknown and we feel abandoned, full of grief, and unsure. We persevere when we are discouraged, overwhelmed, and tired. We carry on to sow the truths of God’s Word into our children, just as Daniel’s mother may have done. We pack the lunch just like the mother of that little boy who happened to be in the crowd beside the Sea of Galilee may have done.
We remain faithful today, and we trust God to take our ordinary days as “just a mom” and transform them into a miracle, used for His purposes and glory.
Your motherhood makes a difference. May you be encouraged today as you follow the example of the women of the Word and trust God with your story.