When Mother’s Day is Hard: Why You Matter to the Church

(And why the church matters to you)

“Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15). For many people, Mother’s Day is a joyous day. But this is not the case for everyone (including men). For some, it could because they haven’t been able to conceive, or have suffered miscarriages. Perhaps they’ve lost their mother or may have lost a child. Even if they have children who are alive, sometimes these children can want nothing to do with them. Other times, they have special needs children and when they look around, they wonder why other parents seemingly have things so much easier and better, because their child will never be “normal.” Whatever the situation, Mother’s Day is not the easiest day for some.

The church needs those who struggle on Mother’s Day though. Not in that we look at them and try to make ourselves feel better- “Things could be worse.” No, we need those who struggle on Mother’s Day for several reasons.

For one, the difficulty of Mother’s Day reminds us of paradise lost and paradise restored. We often forget about the first mom to struggle and cry. Eve lost her son at the hands of her other son. The boy she nurtured and raised was brutally killed in a fit of anger. The Bible doesn’t mention what Eve was thinking or feeling, but no doubt she thought back to her time in the Garden when there was no death or sin. She would have remembered her choice to eat the fruit and commit the sin that brought death and separation to the earth. “If only I hadn’t….” was probably a familiar refrain in her life. Eve needed the grace of God to remind her of the hope that one day God would make everything right again, everything even better than the beginning. Other women, such as Sarah, Leah, and Rebekah struggled to conceive. The brokenness of the world because of sin affected God’s good design. Even so, God came close to these women in their lives and reminded them that He was their ultimate joy and hope.

As we see people who have sorrow around Mother’s Day, we are all reminded of fallen world we live in. We weep with those who weep because of this broken world and its effects on the motherhood. We need this reminder though, to keep looking to a better time, the day when all things will be made new.

We need those who struggle on Mother’s Day in the church for another reason. They help us see that not every problem can be solved with money or in a quick, easy way. God designed his bride, the church, to function in a way in which people walk alongside of each other for the long haul. Day in and day out, week after week, year after year, things don’t necessarily become easier, and the solutions we want don’t always come. Walking alongside someone in the long haul changes us. We can’t give them a nice, tidy solution that changes them in a day. We grow and mature to greater Christlikeness because we understand in deeper measure what it looks like to be the friend Jesus wants us to be.

Thirdly, we learn to weep with others. We can’t answer all their questions of “Why is God doing this to me, or in my life?” but we can acknowledge that what they are going through really hurts. We don’t expect them to fake it all the time and tell us how good things are. Life is difficult, and as we learn to weep with others, we also learn to take the focus off ourselves and our priorities, and to actually care about what others are going through. As we weep with them, we aren’t to be like Job’s friends who are quick to accuse them of some secret sin that is the reason for their struggles, but we do continually point them back to God (even when his reasons and plans aren’t clear to us).

Yes, the church needs those who struggle on Mother’s Day. The opposite is also true though. Those who struggle on Mother’s Day need the church. They need a place where they can express their challenges and sorrows, and where others will come alongside and lift them up in prayer. You’d expect us to say that, but what about this-they need the church because it helps them learn to rejoice with others who are rejoicing.

Most of us can rejoice with others when they are celebrating something we didn’t really want or care that much about, or that doesn’t apply to us. Try rejoicing though when others are celebrating what you really want but didn’t get. That’s hard. When those who struggle on Mother’s Day see others who are enjoying and celebrating it, they learn to rejoice for them. How? Only by God’s grace. God could have created the church where Mother’s Day was easy for everyone, or difficult for everyone, but He didn’t. He created the church so that the whole body would come together and learn from each other. They would learn to weep with others, and learn to rejoice with others.

I don’t know where you are this Mother’s Day. I do know this: our church cares about you and your particular challenges. My prayer is that you’ll have God’s grace to help the rest of us learn how we can better weep with you, better hear you, better walk alongside of you. At the same time, my prayer is also that you’ll grow as you learn to rejoice with others, and that you’ll keep looking to our God who never fails us or stops loving us.

Recommended resources:

Infertility: Infertility: Comfort for your empty arms and heavy heart by Amy Baker and Dan Wickert

Miscarriage: Miscarriage: You are not alone by Stephanie Green

Prodigal children: When good kids make bad choices: Help and hope for hurting parents by Else Fitzpatrick, James Newheiser

Single parenting: Help! I’m a single mom by Carol Trahan