“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”
— Hebrews 11:1
I did not fully comprehend the faith that it would take to be a mother until I became one. It was merely hours after my first child was born, a nurse came to me and asked if she could take my daughter for a few routine tests. As I watched her carry her away, almost instantly I felt my heart tug as if it was being pulled with her outside of my body. I instantly realized how little faith I had and how much I was going to need to be a mom.
Sixteen-and-a-half years later, I realize that without faith, I would never let my now three children leave the house. Raising children in this current world can be terrifying. Every day, as I send my children out, now with my oldest driving herself, I cling even more to God in prayer.
This weekend, our nation celebrates Mother’s Day. It is a day where many will take time to honor our mothers in some special way. A day that calls us to think and reflect on our own mothers and the life that they have given us.
As we do this, I find it important to lean into our faith, recognizing our need for God’s presence in and through it all. Whether we are mothers needing faith to face the challenges and changes of our world and our growing children around us, or are children, relying on faith to strengthen our relationships with our mothers and bless our time together with patience, love and grace or are those grieving the loss of a mother yearning for faith to keep us close to our mothers through love, faith is crucial.
Faith is trusting God with everything. Trusting God with what we cannot control or change. Trusting God with the dreams and hopes we have. Trusting God with the inmost desires and secrets of our hearts. Yet, in a world with so much uncertainty, pain, sorrow, violence and fear, faith can be difficult to have.
When these moments of doubt and faith disconnect arise for me, I turn to prayer, the scriptures and my faith community for support. Here I am reminded, encouraged, and strengthened by God through the many faith stories of mothers. Stories of tragedy and pain, raised to new life and hope that can only come through God.
As I reflect, particularly this day on mothers in the Bible, I find strength from them. From Hagar (Genesis 21), a maidservant to Sarah, who obeys and conceives Ishmael for Abraham, only to face jealousy, rejection and isolation from her community be tended and protected by God and God’s angels. Or Hannah, mother of Samuel (1 Samuel), who waits and prays for many years faithfully to conceive a child, finally conceive and give birth, only to keep her promise to God that she would give this firstborn son up to be raised in the temple a part from her for him to be called by God to be one of the great judges of His people. Or Mary, the mother of Jesus (John 19), who must stand and watch her own son be condemned, tortured and die on a cross, only to be raised by God from the dead and bring new life and hope for us all for eternity. And finally Eunice (2 Timothy), mother of Timothy, who leaders of the early church commend for the gift of faith she and her own mother, Lois, has passed forward to her son to share this good news of Jesus and facing all odds, persecution and ridicule proclaim this hope and faith to the world.
So, mothers, daughters and sons, no matter what this day or any may bring, let us cling to our faith, remembering just as we have seen in the past and will continue to see through the work of the Spirit today, the promises, the good news, and the assurance of all things even better than we can hope for that God brings to each of us now and forever.
Wendy Richter is a pastor at St. Mark’s and All Shepherds Lutheran churches.