“‘The peasantry prospered…because you arose, Deborah, arose as a mother in Israel’” (Judges 5:7).

The spring after 9/11, I sat down with a group of young mothers in my congregation in Kentucky. I asked them one question: “What do you want most for your children?” Not surprisingly given the sense of insecurity following the horrific events of September, the women all wanted their kids to be protected and they themselves enabled to stand up for what’s right. They wanted their sons and daughters to be armed to face life and to know that even should they have no friends, they were not alone. These mothers were willing to defy other parents if the values and actions of those women and men were questionable or inappropriate.

The mothers whose kids were teens in 2002 are now the parents of young adults who may be in college dealing with daily pressures or facing mortal danger in Iraq or Afghanistan. Those whose children were in elementary school must now deal with the challenge of raising adolescents in what I believe is the hardest time ever in which to be a teenager. I suspect these women have become more, not less, concerned about protecting their children, letting them feel the close embrace of Jesus and of their own arms; more, not less, committed to doing what they see as right for the sake of their loved ones.

There are any number of models and mentors for mothers in Scripture and history. And most likely the greatest influence on any woman for her parenting is her own mother, for good or ill. But right now let’s consider the biblical character Deborah as a model for mothers who want to protect their children from dangers and hurts while standing up for the right. What did she do?

First, Deborah got involved in politics. She sat as a judge in Israel. In that day, her position meant that she was at the same time a military leader, an administrator, and a judge in our sense of deciding legal issues. God raised up these judges in Israel in response to crises, and Deborah answered the call.

Mothers today have followed Deborah by running for and holding office, lobbying for causes, joining the military, and becoming known as leaders in their communities through clubs and business networks. They speak, they organize, they petition, they learn, they educate, they seek solutions.

Deborah also initiated and entered into partnerships to accomplish her goals. She called on the military leader Barak to go out against an oppressor king. When Barak asked her to assume command with him, Deborah did so. Countless mothers today join with their mates in the joys and responsibilities of parenting and living life. Many of those same women participate in and/or found organizations devoted to causes they believe in.

Finally, Deborah made herself vulnerable for the sake of those she sought to protect. She went into actual combat to deliver her people from an evil king. Of course, like Deborah, a number of women today are in the military, facing danger in war, away from their children, but hoping their efforts will make their kids safer. The moms I interviewed in 2002 said they would stand up for what was right, even against other parents, risking social rejection and losing friends.

Life is not always fair, and sometimes despite efforts of mothers, their children are not protected from poor choices, hurtful words, sorrow, pain, accidents or the malicious acts of others. Even the model mother, Mary, touched deeply by God, could not keep her Son from crucifixion. But God is gracious, and good, and he will provide sustenance and care and hope for mothers whose hearts are broken, whose best efforts come to naught, who are disappointed that others will not join in the fight or who are hurt in the battle. God will turn even grief around, and a new day will dawn.

When mothers rise up, they deserve our thanks, our admiration, our honor for their courage, concern, and determination. Let us celebrate and be glad that such women give of themselves for those they love.

© 2008 by Tom Cheatham

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