In recognition of Mother’s Day this Sunday (12 May 2019), I offer three portraits of biblical mothers who overcame their less-than-ideal circumstances and produced amazing kids (one way or another).
Naomi owned the mother-in-law role
When Naomi’s husband and both her sons died, she remained in Edom with no family and no way to take care of herself. It’s not a surprise she decided to return to her own people. What does surprise is the commitment Ruth, her daughter-in-law, made to Naomi. (For more on Ruth’s side of the story, see my recent post, Blessed Are: The Meek.) At first, Naomi was like, “whatever,” about Ruth’s refusal to leave her. She was still full of grief and even told people to call her Bitter.
Naomi rose from her grief and
directed Ruth toward a happy future.
But Naomi rose from her grief and directed Ruth toward a happy future. She advised Ruth on local customs and on finding another husband. Boaz turned out to be a wonderful husband for Ruth, and Naomi got to hold her grandson on her lap.
Then Naomi took the child in her arms and cared for him. The women living there said, “Naomi has a son!” –Ruth 4:16-17a
Ruth may have gained another mother-in-law when she married Boaz, but something tells me Naomi remained an important and influential part of her life.
Hannah owned the longed-for-and-lost role
Hannah desperately longed for a child—just one child! Finally (to make a long story short), after pleading to God for years, God blessed her with a son after Hannah promised to give Him back to the service of God. Hannah kept Samuel until he was weaned (probably about three years), then she left him at the temple with the old priest, Eli.
Hannah released Samuel, but
she didn’t disregarded him.
God blessed Hannah with five other children after Samuel (1 Samuel 2:21), but she never stopped being Samuel’s mother. Just because she released him doesn’t mean she disregarded him. Every year, she faithfully brought him a new cloak (1 Samuel 2:19).
Eunice owned the cross-cultural marriage role
We know so little about Timothy’s mother, Eunice. What’s the story behind her marriage to a non-Jewish guy (Acts 16:1)? And how did her mother, Lois, feel about it? Paul said to Timothy,
I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also. –2 Timothy 1:5
Eunice raised Timothy
to love God.
It seems Timothy’s father wasn’t one of those “God-fearing Greeks” like the ones who joined Paul and Silas in Thessalonica (Acts 17:1-4), and yet Eunice raised Timothy to fear God, love others, and follow the Law. Sometime after Jesus came to earth and changed everything, both Eunice and Lois shifted their devotion, becoming Christ-followers.
Eunice navigated her cross-cultural marriage while consistently instilling her faith into her son. She didn’t let her circumstances excuse her from diligence in faith matters.
Naomi’s grandson, Obed, was the grandfather of King David and in the lineage of Jesus (Ruth 4:17).
Hannah’s son spoke for God for years and anointed both King Saul (1 Samuel 10:1) and King David (1 Samuel 16:12-13).
Eunice’s son helped the Gospel spread around the world and was the recipient of two letters that influence Christian thinking even today (1 and 2 Timothy).
These women had unconventional mothering rolls, but they were exactly where God wanted them to be, doing what He wanted them to do. This Mother’s Day…okay, every day…let’s celebrate the mothers around us who may not look or act like your “typical” mom, if there is such a thing.
Being a mother–and “owning” that role–has always taken many forms, as far back as biblical times. Even #MothersDay is #NotAboutMe, via @Carole_Sparks. (click to tweet)
Have you known the blessing of an unconventional mom in your life? Maybe you are the unconventional mom. Know another biblical example of an unconventional mothering role? I’d love to hear your stories in the comments below!