And she said unto Elijah, What have I to do with thee, O thou man of God? art thou come unto me to call my sin to remembrance, and to slay my son? 1 Kings 17:18
The woman quoted in this verse is a widow that was mentioned by Jesus. In addition to being the focus of Jesus’ comment she gives us some unexpected, helpful insight into motherhood. Please read the unique story in this chapter beginning at verse 1. In this post I'll call the widow Alma from the Hebrew word for widow: almanah.
Horrible tragedy struck Alma: her only child died. Look closely at her response in verse 18. She partially blamed herself. Her conscience had pierced her clouded, grieving mind with two words: “my fault!”
Alma was plagued by guilt from the past… what had she done? What dark guilt-laden memories would replay every time her fears were aroused? She couldn’t free herself from these memories or guilt… Conscience was Alma’s master, guilt her chains, and fear her tormentor. A cruel bondage. Now, she believed, payday had come and the wage was unbearable. Her husband first… now her son.
Alma is a keen example of some mothers who sense there is a God, but know little about him. This incomplete understanding places a terrible burden on mothers, and affects everything they do. As mothers become more secularized they lose a firm understanding of the Gospel and its benefits for mothers.
Here are some things mothers have in common:
- Just like Alma, all mothers have made some mistakes in their lives. Romans 3:23
- This means all thoughtful mothers have done things they wish they hadn’t done.
- Just like Alma, mothers tend to take personal responsibility for the behavior and actions of their children, as well as what happens to their children.
- And just like Alma, mothers struggle with some level of guilt aggravated by the demands they put on themselves, and by the “perfect” mothers paraded on TV, at PTA, in “how to” books, on internet blogs, or at church, etc.
A woman doesn’t have to be a Christian to be a warm, caring mother, but a mother, like Alma, who doesn’t believe the Gospel and understand grace:
- Has no lasting remedy for her guilt, and may live with a constant fear of judgment.
- May carry this burden of guilt which can cause even more self-loathing and guilt for things beyond her control.
- Can be more inclined to beat herself up for her imperfections, resulting in unrealistic demands on herself and her children… adding more guilt.
- May not recognize any spiritual help with raising her children.
A mother who believes the Gospel and understands grace:
- Has a permanent remedy for her guilt: forgiveness in Jesus Christ. True Freedom!
- Can trust a loving and merciful God in matters beyond her control.
- While not excusing her imperfections, accepts the fact that she will never be perfect in this life, neither will her children. She learns the power and freedom of forgiveness...
- Lives under the Grace of God, and knows God cares about every need. She knows God loves her children as much as she does, and He helps her raise them.
- Knows that this life is not the end, so she seeks the salvation of her children.
Alma came to know a kind and merciful God... I hope you know him too. A personal understanding of God's Grace In Jesus Christ makes motherhood so much easier.