This year, I have been meditating on each of the Nativity story characters and what it was like to experience the birth of Christ from their point of view. No one has a more first-hand account than Mary, the mother of Jesus. She was hand-picked to raise the Son of God. What does the Bible say about Mary as a mother?
“Be it unto me as you have said” (Luke 1:38).
Mary’s response to the angel’s stunning announcement shows remarkable trust. The announcement's consequences meant she was outcast. No one believed her. Even her fiancé questioned her purity until an angel spoke in his dreams. Had Joseph wanted to, he could have had her stoned, but yet she obeyed, risking death. No doubt her neighbors thought her promiscuous. No doubt she heard whispers as she passed by. The reward of being the mother of the Savior did not come without a price.
And isn’t this what her son Jesus did as well? Obedience even to death?
Parenting requires times when we must allow for His will even when His plans seem impossible or inconvenient. Mary’s acceptance of God’s will for her life brought her shame, grief, and much later respect. But the benefit of being the Mother of God wasn’t fully realized until after her Son’s seemingly premature and unthinkable death. Yet she accepted His will and all that came with it.
And his mother treasured all these things in her heart (Luke 2:51).
Sometimes the Holy Spirit will show us things to come as parents. When He does, it is best to do as Mary did and hide those things in our heart until the moment is right. In the meantime, we pray and ponder what we feel God has revealed to us in regard to our children. This “knowing” brings hope when the future seems hopeless and we hold fast to our confession of faith knowing that what He has promised He is faithful to perform.
His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you” (John 2:5).
Mary believed that her Son was capable of the miraculous. This is seen in the story of the wedding at Cana. This is the first record of a miracle performed by Jesus, and yet Mary has quiet confidence that her Son will do what she has asked. In the same way, we need to draw on the anointing that God has placed upon our children, showing them the confidence we have in the gifts and talents that the Lord has given them.
Yet even Mary was not the perfect parent. In Mark 3, we see Jesus' family coming to Jesus because they thought he must be out of his mind. Even the best of us will mess up sometimes. There is forgiveness from God. Confess your short-comings and ask for forgiveness.
Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother.... (John 19:25).
Mary was there on Jesus’ worst day. She suffered with him. It would have been easy to look away, but instead she followed him to watch a mother’s worst nightmare. It must have been a temptation to wonder if there had been a mistake. It must have looked like all of her pain and scorn was in vain and that her Son’s life had been cut short. She could have questioned, “Why?” Even worse, she could have questioned whether or not she had heard God’s direction for her life in the first place.
Sometimes something unexpected happens in the life of our family. Perhaps a child goes astray or makes a decision you feel isn’t in their best interest. Maybe there is a medical emergency or accident and all of the hopes and dreams you had seems to be in jeopardy. We want to cry out, “Why?” Even worse, we wonder if we ever understood God’s direction for that family member. It is not recorded that Mary questioned, only that she wept. She watched the death not only of her Son, but of the hopes and dreams of His followers. Only the Father understood what was necessary in the midst of the unthinkable. Yet Mary was there in the middle of His turmoil. We can be there for our children in the middle of their turmoil too. We can trust that God will turn any situation we face together for His good. (See Romans 8:28.)
They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers (Acts 1:14).
Mary continued on with the work and community of Jesus after His departure. She was faithful to the vision that He cast before her. Even after her heart had been broken by the horrific death of her Son, she continued on in faith to follow after His teachings and His footsteps. She didn’t allow herself to become overwhelmed with questions and bitterness. She didn’t let her hopes and dreams die just because it seemed like the end of all that God had planned. She allowed God to work His plan, His way and embraced a brand new way of believing.
Our children don’t always go about doing things the way that we had hoped or planned. But our trust needs to be in God and His plans and His ways for the lives of our children. The followers of Christ were caught off guard at His death. It wasn’t until later that they could see the plan clearly. They didn’t get stuck in despair believing that all hope was lost. They had faith in the midst of a crisis.
During this season, take a moment to think about Mary and what she can teach us about parenting. She embraced God’s will for her life, even though it was embarrassing and inconvenient. She kept quiet about what God had revealed to her about her Son, allowing the promise to be revealed in God’s time. Mary believed in the gifts that God gave her child, and at the right time she pressed into the anointing God placed upon Him. She stood beside Him on His worst day, never leaving His side. Finally, she didn’t allow His death to make her bitter, but instead carried on in faith and helped to spread these beliefs all over the world.
Rev. Dr. Rob Toornstra
Rev. Deb Koster