Our indoor playground will be closed June 24-27 for an on-campus event.

Motherhood: A Suffering Kind of Love

By Tiffany Stein
In eLetter
Back to Blog

To be a mother is to know a suffering kind of love. And no one knows that better than Mary, the mother of Jesus.

Still healing from birth, Mary presented her infant son, Jesus, at the Temple. A prophet named Simon had been waiting there to see the Messiah, and when he laid eyes on the squirming bundle in Mary’s arms, he burst into praise and blessed the young family. Then Simon turned and said to Mary, “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too” (Lk 2:34-25, emphasis mine).

In a single interaction, Mary’s motherhood was defined: She would have the joy and privilege of raising Jesus and watching him fulfill his Father’s will as the Savior of the world. And she would suffer as her beloved son was rejected and suffered at the hands of others.

Doesn’t that pretty much sum up motherhood? Joy and sorrow all bound together in love, overflowing, and poured out?

Foster to adopt moms may experience the joy of forming a new family while also lamenting that family reunification wasn’t possible for their children. Stepmoms may be thrilled to join an existing family while also navigating the complexities of being a blended family. Grandmothers may be overjoyed to have a grandchild to dote on while also wishing the child didn’t live so far away. A mother may be delighted to be pregnant only to experience crippling postpartum depression once the baby is born.

To love anyone is to make yourself vulnerable to pain, rejection, being misunderstood, being taken advantage of, and being unappreciated. But to love someone unconditionally at the expense of yourself? That’s the sacrificial love of Christ.

The Apostle Paul writes in Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Eugene Peterson puts it this way in The Message, “But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him.”

Mary bled when Jesus was born, and in a reversal of roles, Mary witnessed her son and Savior bleed on the cross. The blood of new life was bought with the blood of an innocent’s death.

And so, love this side of heaven, is a bloody, messy love. A dying-to-self love. An expansive love that gives me ample opportunity to develop patience in spades, delight in walking at the pace of a two-year-old, and contentment in wiping the splattered spaghetti sauce off the floor one more time while also holding space for my deceased son.

Confident that nothing “will be able to separate [her] from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord,” mothers of any kind are invited to extend the sacrificial love of Christ they’ve received to those entrusted to their care. For in so doing she proclaims the Gospel, “Love never fails” (1 Cor. 13:8).

We Recommend Reading Next: