Even though Mother’s Day isn’t mentioned in scripture, this holiday offers us a great opportunity to recognize our mothers, those who were like mothers to us, and the mothers of our faith throughout God’s story. One mother in particular calls me to remember God’s providence, power, humility, and grace.
In 1 Samuel 2, Hannah offers a prayer of thanksgiving to God after her longed-after son, Samuel, is born. She does not pray for Samuel to be a great athlete or leader, or to be the best in his class or a master craftsman. Her prayer is directed to who God is and what God does. She prays:
“He will guard the feet of his faithful ones,
but the wicked shall be cut off in darkness;
for not by might does one prevail” (1 Samuel 2:9).
I encourage you to read the whole prayer when you have a moment, but for now, “Not by might does one prevail,” captures me. Sometimes we think that the way to change the world is through power and control, or we think if we only had the right person in office things would be different. We are quick to equate success with never being in need, or we forget that every “self-made” person was once born from a mother, and was dependent on someone for food, shelter, and care.
If you really want to change the world, rock a baby to sleep. It is an exercise in humility and patience. If you really want to change the world, read a story to a child to stretch her imagination of what’s possible. If you really want to change the world, crouch down, kiss the skinned knee, tell him it will be ok, and mean it. If you really want to change the world, listen to her first heart break, and be there when it happens again.
Changing the world takes humility, patience, kindness, generosity, and the kind of strength that turns the other cheek instead of picking up a weapon. Now, hear me. I am not saying that this is a mother’s job. It’s not the dad’s job to bring power into the equation like a misguided pink and blue Yin-Yang. We are all called to nurture, provide, heal, and listen, but the mothers of our faith—Hannah, Mary, Elizabeth, Miriam, and maybe your own mother, remind us of that calling.
We will not prevail through might, but maybe we will recognize God’s victory through a mother’s prayer of thanksgiving for the child she never thought possible.