If ever a woman was born to be a mother, it is my wife. Like her, there is no other, nor ever has been nor will be.
But motherhood seemed only a distant hope for a season. Three long years transpired as we waited, sought medical evaluation, prayed, and hoped, only to be crushed time and again. And the failure to conceive is crushing, becoming only increasingly so as the days, months, years pass by. Mother’s Day after Mother’s Day without a child.
You will not be surprised to learn that I vividly remember the day in the doctor’s office we were told my wife was pregnant. The waiting was done. The rejoicing had begun. My wife was a mother! Mother’s Day would never be the same again, right?
In April, just before Mother’s Day in May, our son was born. He was born on Sunday. Very late Saturday night I was at the church’s parsonage in a rural community. My wife was two hours away with her parents, heading to a hospital in New Orleans. Actually, that night, my trip was significantly less than two hours, but we will not dwell on that, will we! I got THE call! I arrived at the hospital in time. We held our son. All in the world seemed good.
Then Mother’s Day came, and we thought it would be the grand day we always had dreamed it would be. Our baby in our arms. The church people gushing and making a fuss at how he was growing. This is what it should be. So why did it not feel quite so wonderful?
Memory is an amazing thing, a great gift and a difficult trial. Wonderfully, I remember the story of my son’s birth I just wrote down! However, try as I might, I cannot forget some of the unkind words I have spoken or accidents I have experienced. I rest in God’s forgiveness and grace, but memory does not relinquish its grasp on us quite so readily.
On this Mother’s Day, the wonderful Mother’s Day, we remembered the other, not-so-wonderful Mother’s Days. We felt those feelings again. We recalled the doubt and hopelessness we had known before. We remembered.
We have adopted three more marvelous children now. Marvelous is grossly inadequate as a descriptor for our children. “Blessed” seems a puny word to use to describe what God has done for and given to us through our children. And Mother’s Day represents tremendous joy and amazing memories for us now. But we still remember before our child. And we think.
We think of those who are walking where we walked. Some may never rejoice in the positive test of pregnancy. Some might never even adopt. Every story is different.
But every story is the same. In this world, beneath every joy is a tear. Beyond every good day is a memory. That is the way God told us it would be under the effects of sin. “In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread.” (Genesis 3:19a) Yes, we shall eat and we shall drink, and we shall rejoice, but it shall all be in the “sweat of your face.” What powerful imagery. The same face that receives food and drink and expresses joy will do so always in the grimace of exertion and the fatigue signified by sweat, a fatigue that one day will lead us unto death.
Yet through Christ, not just sin alone, but the effects of sin will be removed forever. We read of this future reality in Isaiah (25:7-8), who centuries before Christ’s birth and death had prophesied:
And He will destroy on this mountain
The surface of the covering cast over all people,
And the veil that is spread over all nations.
He will swallow up death forever,
And the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces;
The rebuke of His people
He will take away from all the earth;
For the Lord has spoken.
The rebuke, the sweat, the death will be swallowed up forever. Joy no longer will be underlined by our tears. They shall be wiped away “from all faces.”
Jesus said, “Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him.”
In that day, our tears will be wiped, and our faces will be clean. Our joy will be mixed with sorrow no more. Never again will we eat our bread in the sweat of our face. We who faith in Him, will live with Jesus forever.
So until then, as we pass Mother’s Days to come, we can live with grace in whatever each one is, remembering what has been, always looking forward to what will be.