Live Coal: The Motherhood of God

“As one whom his mother comforts, so will I comfort you; and you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.”

Isaiah 66:13

The written sermons of Dr. Thomas DeWitt Talmage have proved to be of more worth than a 6-year college degree in sociology. His educator’s mind combined with his editorial skills provide the ember for today’s Live Coal:

The Motherhood of God

The Bible is a warm letter of affection from a parent to a child; and yet there are many who see chiefly the severer passages. As there may be fifty or sixty nights of gentle dew in one summer, that will not cause as much remark as one hailstorm of half-an-hour; so there are those who are more struck by those passages of the Bible that announce the indignation of God than by those that announce His affection. Here now is a passage of tremendous weight that declares the tenderest of all truths: that of the maternal nurturing of God Almighty.

1. God has a mother’s simplicity of instruction.

A father does not know how to teach a child the A-B-C’s. Men are not skillful in the primary department. But a mother has so much patience that she will tell a child for the hundredth time the difference between F and G and between I and J. She thus teaches the child, and has no awkwardness of condescension in so doing. So God, as our mother, stoops down to our infantile minds. God has been teaching some of us thirty years, and some sixty years, one word of one syllable, and we do not know it yet — F-A-I-T-H, faith. When we come to that word, we stumble, we halt, we lose our place, we pronounce it wrong. Still, God’s patience is not exhausted. God, as mother, puts us in the school of prosperity, and the letters are in sunshine, and we cannot spell them. God puts us in the school of adversity, and the letters are black, and we cannot spell them.

If God were merely a king, He would punish us. If He were simply a father, He would whip us. But God is as a mother, and so we are borne with and helped all the way through.

A mother teaches her child chiefly by pictures. God teaches us almost everything by pictures. Is the Divine goodness to be set forth? How does God teach us? By an autumnal picture. The barns are full. The wheat-stacks are rounded. The orchards are dropping the ripe pippins into the lap of the farmer. Does God, as our mother, want to set forth what a foolish thing it is to go away from the right, and how glad Divine mercy is to take back the wanderer? How is it to be done? By a picture.

2. God has a mother’s favouritism.

A father sometimes shows a sort of favouritism. Here is a boy — strong, well, of high forehead and quick intellect. The father says, “I will take that boy into my firm yet; or, “I will give him the very best possible education. There are instances where, for the culture of the one boy, all the others have been robbed. A sad favouritism; but that is not the mother’s favourite.

I will tell you her favourite.

There is a child who, at two years of age, had a fall. He has never got over it. The scarlet fever muffled his hearing. He is not what he once was. The children of the family all know that he is the favourite. So he ought to be; for if there is any one in the world who needs sympathy more than another, it is an invalid child. Weary on the first mile of life’s journey; carrying an aching head, a weak side, an irritated lung. So the mother makes him a favourite.

God loves us all; but there is one weak, and sick, and sore, and wounded, and suffering, and faint. That is the one who lies nearest and more perpetually on the great, loving heart of God. There is not such a watcher as God. The best nurse may be overborne by fatigue, and fall asleep in the chair; but God, as a mother, after being up a year of nights with a suffering child, never slumbers nor sleeps.

3. God has a mother’s capacity for attending to little hurts.

The father is shocked at the broken bone of the child, or at the sickness that sets the cradle on fire with fever, but it takes the mother to sympathize with all the little ailments and little bruises of the child. If the child has a splinter in its hand, it wants the mother to take it out, and not the father. The father says, “Oh, that is nothing,” but the mother knows it is something, and that a little hurt sometimes is to a child a very great hurt. So with God: all our annoyances are important enough to look at and sympathize with.

“The relationship God has with His saints assures His power on their behalf. You are His own dear child, and most parents take care of their own. Even the silly hen scurries to gather her brood under her wing when trouble appears. How much more will God, who is the father of such instincts in His creatures, stir up His whole strength to defend you?

A mother sitting in her house hears a sudden cry outside and, knowing the voice, says at once, ‘That is my child!’ She drops everything and runs to him. God responds as with a mother’s heart to the cries of His children.”

From “The Christian in Complete Armour” by William Gurnall

So every wound of the soul, however insignificant, God is willing to bind up. As at the first cry of the child the mother rushes to kiss the wound, so God takes the smallest wound of the heart, and presses it to the lips of divine sympathy.

4. God has a mother’s patience for the erring.

If one does wrong, first his associates in life cast him off; if he goes on in the wrong way, his business partner cuts him off; if he goes on, his best friends cast him off. But after all others have cast him off, where does he go? Who holds no grudge, and forgives the last time as well as the first? Who sits by the murderer’s counsel all through the long trial? Who tarries the longest at the windows of a culprit’s cell? Who, when all others think ill of a man, keeps on thinking well of him? It is his mother.

God bless her gray hairs, if she be still alive; and bless her grave, if she be gone! And bless the rocking-chair in which she used to sit, and bless the cradle that she used to rock, and bless the Bible she used to read! So God has patience for all the erring. After everybody else has cast a man off, God comes to the rescue.

5. God has a mother’s way of putting a child to sleep.

You know there is no cradle-song like a mother’s. The time will come when we will be wanting to be put to sleep. After the excitement of the evening it is almost impossible to get the child to sleep. If the rocking-chair stop a moment, the eyes are wide open; but the mother’s patience and the mother’s soothing manner keep on until, after a while, the angel of slumber puts his wing over the pillow. Well, the time will come when we will be wanting to be put to sleep. The day of our life will be done, and the shadows of the night of death will be gathering around us. Then we want God to soothe us, to hush us to sleep.

“For I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.

For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.”

1 Thessalonians 4:13-14

Let the music at our going not be the dirge of the organ, or the knell of the church-tower, or the drumming of a “dead march,” but let it be the hush of a mother’s lullaby. Oh! the cradle of the grave will be soft with the pillow of all the promises. When we are being rocked into that last slumber, I want this to be the cradle-song: “As one whom a mother comforteth, so will I comfort you.”

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