13 Sing, heavens! Rejoice, earth!
Break out, mountains, with a song.
The Lord has comforted his people,
and taken pity on those who suffer.
14 But Zion says, “The Lord has abandoned me;
my Lord has forgotten me.”
15 Can a woman forget her nursing child,
fail to pity the child of her womb?
Even these may forget,
but I won’t forget you.
1 Lord, my heart isn’t proud;
my eyes aren’t conceited.
I don’t get involved with things too great or wonderful for me.
2 No. But I have calmed and quieted myself
like a weaned child on its mother;
37 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem! You who kill the prophets and stone those who were sent to you. How often I wanted to gather your people together, just as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings. But you didn’t want that.”
Almost all of us know that the Bible used fathering images to portray God. It may surprise you, however, that the Bible showed how much God loves us by comparing God to a warmly loving, sheltering mother as well as to a protecting father. Through the prophet Isaiah, through the psalms, and even through Jesus himself “God claims to be a compassionate mother and more so.”*
Lord Jesus, you mourned like a bereaved mother because the people of Jerusalem would not accept the shelter you offered under your “wings.” Make me willing to accept and find safety in the spiritual shelter you offer me. Amen.
* Introductory study note on Isaiah 49 in The CEB Women’s Bible. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2016, p. 928.
Today's Scripture verses paint such a beautiful image of our God. I especially love the image used in Matthew of a mother hen providing shelter for her children underneath her wing.
Recently, in the Memorial Garden at Resurrection Leawood, a mother duck made her nest. This mother put the nest in a safe spot, camouflaging it so her eggs would be safe. She laid her eggs and spent most of every day sitting on the eggs, taking good care of her babies before they were even born. The eggs hatched a couple of weeks ago and soon 11 babies were waddling behind momma duck. Watching this momma duck care for her young was beautiful: she quickly brought them to water so they could begin swimming, she’d help them get food and learn the basics, at night (I’m told) she cuddled up with them, helping them stay warm.
When we think of Jesus’ words in Matthew, and his longing to gather the people of Jerusalem “just as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings” (Matthew 23:37), we hear Jesus saying, “I wanted to nurture you and offer warmth and protection to you.” Just as Jesus longed to provide this care many years ago, Jesus still longs to extend comfort to each of us. Of course this care looks different than it would have when Jesus was walking on the earth. Today we have the presence of Jesus’ Spirit with each of us which can provide this same comfort and nurturing: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you. I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you” (John 14:15-18).
Through these verses in John, Jesus promised that we wouldn’t be left alone, that His Spirit would be with us at all times. I’ve found this to be true. When I call out to God and ask God for comfort, I almost always feel a sense of peace and warmth come over me. This is one of the ways God loves and nurtures us.
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