When I was planning the series “Ultimate Questions” for the congregation of The Orchard some time ago, I wondered which of Jesus’ questions might be most appropriate for Mother’s Day. So I showed a list of Christ’s questions to a few mothers in the congregation and asked, “If you could choose one of these questions for Mother’s Day which one would it be?”
The response was unanimous. It was just a straw poll, but everybody I asked came up with the same answer: “You should preach on Jesus’ question about worry.”
After conversing with some mothers about their particular worries, certain reoccurring themes became clear.
A Mother’s Top Five Worries
1. Safety. Almost every mother who responded to our question mentioned the safety of their children. Mothers worry about their kids driving carefully and staying safe on the roads. They worry about their kids’ health and their physical safety. Raising a child in today’s world of violence also causes worry that something or someone will hurt him or her.
2. Health. Mothers mentioned the physical and emotional health of their kids. They expressed worry over unhealthy friendships, being in unhealthy environments, and the prospect of incurable diseases.
3. Marriage. Another common theme was marriage. Mothers worry about their children finding the right spouse—-a loving and caring partner. They also worry about failed marriages and whether or not their kids will make good choices.
4. Competence. This is the worry about having done a good job as a mother. Mothers ask, “Have I readied my children to face the outside world—-or how to face marriage? Have I passed on our values and spiritual heritage to our children? Have I established a good relationship with our children, one that will be maintained as they grow into adults?”
5. Faith. Not all mothers who answered the question were Christians, but of those who were, this was clearly a major area of worry. Mothers worry that their kids won’t embrace their faith and make it the highest priority of their lives.
These are the natural and, therefore, common worries of motherhood. But mothers, here is what you need to hear: Worry is a hidden question that needs an open answer. Worry needs to be exposed. It needs to be brought into the open. The only way to overcome its dark power is to bring it into the light.
So having described our worries, let’s look together at the teaching of Jesus, and see if we can bring our worries into the light of his truth.
Jesus’ Top Three Answers to a Mother’s Worry
And he said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” (Luke 12:22-25)
Discover your human inability. Jesus asks his disciples in this passage how they can add a single hour to their lives by worrying. He says that, even if they had that ability, it would be such a tiny difference that it would hardly be worth mentioning! Luke 12:26makes it clear that this is Jesus’ point: “Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?”
Jesus is confronting us with our inability. The length of a person’s life is determined by God. It isn’t something you can control. And no amount of worry will make a scrap of difference to it. But the root of all worry is that part of us feels that maybe we can control these things.
Let’s take Jesus’ question and apply it to the particular areas of our worries today, as if the risen Lord Jesus Christ were asking it of us directly. Which of you by worrying can ensure that your child will not have an accident? Which of you by worrying can protect your children from the pressures of the world? Which of you by worrying can become an ideal parent? Which you by worrying can bring eternal life to your son or daughter’s soul?
Discovering your inability can be the beginning of faith. Have you discovered your inability? That could just be the first step in you coming to an authentic faith.
Examine the direction of your heart. There is clearly a relationship between the things that you set your heart on and the things that worry you. That’s the problem with setting your heart on things like health and safety; these factors are obviously not in your control. This is the point of tension for all of us who are Christian parents: We want our children to follow Christ, but we also want them to have pain-free lives.
Here’s the truth: There is no pain-free following of Christ. If you want your son or daughter to be a follower of Christ, you cannot set your heart on them never being hurt or never experiencing pain.
The cost to the child is shared by the mother, but so is the blessing. To bear a son or daughter who follows Christ will be difficult. But it will also mean that you are wonderfully blessed.
Trust the Shepherd of your soul. Notice that when Jesus speaks about worry, he directs our attention to the Father who is in heaven: “Do not worry. The pagan world runs after such things and your heavenly Father knows that you need them” (Luke 12:30). You have a heavenly Father who cares for each of his children more than you ever can. This Father is the shepherd of the flock.
It is true that God never promises a pain-free life to us or our children. In fact, he says that he sends you out as sheep among wolves! But he also says that he is your shepherd.
Let’s take this promise into our world of worry. We worry about our kids’ choices. We worry about their faith. We worry about whether we have done a good enough job to guide them, as if everything depended on us.
If the Lord is their shepherd, is he not able to lead them in right paths? And if they become lost, is he not able to seek them and find them and bring them back? Here you are as a mother trying to point this little fellow in the right direction, and then you let him go. Isn’t it good to know that you can trust your heavenly Father?
Your heavenly Father does not promise that the way will be easy, but he does promise that he will be with you all the way. He confronts you with your inability. He warns you about where you set your heart. He invites you to trust your heavenly Father. Are you ready to do that today?
To all mothers reading this article, I hope you will have a wonderful Mother’s Day and that you will feel the blessing and honor of the gift and calling that God has given to you in motherhood.