The Fierce Mother Heart of God

My three-year-old grandson Jarrah has been unwell recently. Really unwell. He has been seriously ill with what we’ve now discovered was a horrible combination of scarlet fever and pneumonia, leading to a four-hour-long operation to drain infected fluid from his tiny lungs. Even after the surgery, his recovery has been slow. It’s been a tough time for our family.

In the midst of all the sound and fury, of doctors and nursing staff coming and going, of visits by family members, and of one medical procedure after another, I’ve been watching my daughter, the mother of my grandson. And I’ve been amazed by what I’ve seen.

Courtney has exhibited a ferocity of love I have never seen in her.

Of course, it’s been a joy to watch the deep affection she has for her son since the day he was born. But during his illness some kind of primal love force has emerged. And I have been in awe of her, frankly. She hasn’t panicked or complained. She hasn’t exhibited any frustration with her boy. Even though she’s been worried sick and utterly exhausted, she has been steadfast, focused, and unrelentingly kind to Jarrah.

Basically, she’s been totally locked on to him. She won’t leave his side. Even when her partner and her parents are urging her to get some sleep in another room. She won’t go. She watches her gorgeous boy like a hawk. She interrogates the medical staff kindly and respectfully. And keeps non-essential people at bay. She’s Jarrah’s guardian in the true sense of the word.

And she speaks the truth to Jarrah. She never lies to him. She won’t say something won’t hurt if it will. She outlines every procedure to him in a way he can understand. She gives him agency. She’s a powerfully non-anxious presence in his life.

It’s a bit of a trope to refer to motherly love as nurturing and gentle, but I’ve discovered it’s also, well, fierce!!

I was telling a friend about Courtney’s fierce mothering the other day and he said, “That reminds me of how God loves us.”

That comment stopped me in my tracks. I know some folks get anxious if you refer to the motherly qualities of God, but there are a number of places in the Bible where God is described as a mother. God is depicted doing the things that a mother might do, like comforting or feeding her children (see Hosea 11:3–4; Deuteronomy 32:18; Isaiah 42:14; 49:15; 66:13).

And there are about a dozen more verses where God’s wings of protection are mentioned, like Psalm 91:4: “God will protect you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.” Even though the masculine pronoun is used there, covering your offspring with feathers is something a mother bird does.

But watching Courtney care for Jarrah, I hear other passages like this one in Genesis 28:15, where God says to Israel, “I am with you now, I will protect you everywhere you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done everything that I have promised you.”

And this one: “The Lord your God is the one who marches with you. He won’t let you down, and he won’t abandon you” (Deut 31:6).

God is faithful and protective and resolute. God communicates clearly with those God loves, giving us choices and agency. Some people caricature these as masculine traits, but I see them in my wife and my daughter and other amazing mothers I’ve had the opportunity to observe at close quarters. It’s a mistake to characterize motherly love as soft and gentle. It’s rock-hard. It’s like granite! It’s one of the most powerful forces I’ve observed. I see it not only in my daughter, but in my wife Caz who is as equally locked on to her baby, Courtney, as well as her grandbaby, Jarrah.

These powerful women are teaching me about God’s fierce love. In fact, I think I know God’s love in my own life more because of them.

May you also know the fierceness of God’s protective love.

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The views expressed are my own and do not necessarily represent the official views of Morling College or its affiliates and partners.

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6 thoughts on “The Fierce Mother Heart of God

  1. Thank you. I was touched very deeply. I have seen the same love in my beautiful wife and daughter, who have and continue to walk with God through the valley of ill health of their children. We are all very blessed. Thank you and thank you Jesus.

  2. Thank you. Holding you all in prayer.

  3. Thank you, Michael, and prayers and love for all.
    Sorry, but I couldn’t help but make some “Shape”connections: the Shape of the Ferocity of a Mother’s Love.” Or, as a part of the Flame-Bearing Shape of a mother’s ferocious love.

  4. Yes! I feel all of this so deeply too.
    Between myself and our 5 children, there are 12 auto immune disease diagnoses. I’ve lost count now of the number of hospital stays, infusions, transfusions, tests, trials and all the rest that we have been through. But the one thing that illness has done over the years has drawn me closer to Yahweh. It has helped me understand His heart in deeper, more intimate ways that I could have imagined had our lives gone along smoothly. And it the dark, quiet places (sometimes sitting alone in a hospital corridor or cafe), I feel the intensity of His love working in me, through me and for me and mine. It has abounded in ways that I could not possibly express in a simple blog post comment. But I had to leave a comment to say – I totally get this and in solidarity, familiarity and with understanding (and tears in my eyes), I send my love and support to you and yours as you continue to walk this road.
    Thank you for sharing these words today.

  5. Great reflection; thanks Mike.

  6. This was great! I liked the emphasis on the fierceness of mother love, which can often be overlooked.
    I think there’s room for more posts related to this topic.
    1st, I caution motherhood can be valued to the exclusion of all traits of femaleness, especially in religious/Christian circles.
    God in the Bible is also related to those, such as Wisdom in Proverbs. But also elements such as wind & fire, showing God is beyond categorization or gender. The book, Wearing God, also demonstrates this.
    She Who Is by Elizabeth A. Johnson powerfully shows the damaging effects of speaking & thinking of God so strongly as masculine. It ultimately leaves men as closer to God than women, which is not only wrong but leads to all the scandals, both secular & religious, we’ve discovered in the last 10ish years.
    Valuing one group or sex over the other is never good, because that’s not how God relates to us.

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