So I Will Comfort You

Over the last few years, there has been a little family of raccoons in the hollow tree in my front yard. This same mama raccoon has raised several litters of babies here, and we have watched each one as they’ve grown, learned to go out and gather food with Mom, then finally gone off on their own. It’s been fun watching this raccoon mommy with her babies. She scolds and corrects them. She gives them a boost from behind when they are struggling to climb up the trunk to their nest. She guides them around the neighborhood, and shows them how to return home safely. Then one day mom and babies are gone and I know that she has successfully reared another brood.

This year though, things were different. We were aware that Mama R, as we called her, had given birth to a litter. We’d observed her leaving the tree early in the morning and coming home at dusk each of several days. Then, a few days ago, we began to see the tiny raccoons poking their noses out of the hole. This was something we’d never seen before—the babies venturing out without their mother. The next day, we awoke to find two of them clinging to the side of the tree, with three more frantically poking their heads out. On day three, they were all scrambling up and down the tree trunk, obviously looking for their mom. At this point, I knew that she was not coming back. She probably had been hit by a car or suffered some other event that led to her death, because that is the only thing that would have kept her from coming back to her babies. Long story short, we called animal control, and they came to take the babies, but by that time there were only two in the nest, and they were badly dehydrated. They will go to a “raccoon rehab” to regain their health, and will later be released.

Importance of Mothers

All this activity started me thinking about the importance of mothers. I have counselees all along the spectrum when it comes to how they were mothered, from never having known their mother at all, to growing up with an alcoholic mom, to practically having June Cleaver for a mom. All of them were affected by how they were mothered. Our moms are literally our first point of contact in life. Even what they eat before we’re born has an impact on us! If they are around when we’re growing up, they are our first teachers. They are the first place we learn to trust (or not to trust) people. No doubt about it, moms have a huge impact on our hearts.

When we become moms ourselves, we take our turn to have that same impact on our children. Will they learn to trust in our arms? Will they learn biblical coping skills like prayer, accountability, and fellowship? Will they learn the basics of biblical womanhood or manhood from us? When they’re ready to leave the nest, will they be equipped with all the skills they need to make a life as an adult? Motherhood is indeed a huge responsibility and a grand privilege.

I’ve written here before about my own career as a mother. My nest is empty now, and I am grateful that by God’s grace, I was able to see my children through to adulthood. I have to admit, I had a moment of sadness when I realized that Mama R wasn’t coming back and that her babies were in peril. Honestly, even in my mid-fifties, I still feel the sorrow of losing my own mother. There are days when a girl just longs for her mom. Whether or not she was an ideal mother, everyone at some point after losing her will have a feeling of homesickness for their mom. It is human. Even those who never knew their mother have this sense of loss and longing.

Encouragement From Our Savior

But in our sorrow, our Savior offers encouragement. As we long for that comfort of our mother’s arms, hear her laughter in our heart’s memories, or see her face in her last moments, God has a word of comfort for us from Isaiah 66:13:

As one whom his mother comforts,
So I will comfort you…

God knows the comfort a mother offers, and He understands our longing for that comfort. Jesus experienced the tender care of Mary as she raised Him, and He later made provision for her welfare in the last moments of his earthly life.

Charles Spurgeon, in Faith’s Checkbook, shares a devotion about a mother’s love. This one, by God’s providence, happens to fall on my own mother’s birthday in this one-year devotional guide:

“A mother’s comfort! Ah, this is tenderness itself. How she enters into her child’s grief! How she presses him to her bosom and tries to take all his sorrow into her own heart! He can tell her all, and she will sympathize as nobody else can. Of all comforters, the child loves best his mother, and even full-grown men have found it so.”

Like a mother, God invites us to “holy familiarity, unreserved confidence, and sacred rest.” God is clearly our Father, but He also longs to mother us in these ways. Just as a mother knows the weaknesses of her child, so God knows and understands our troubles. Jesus expressed a motherly desire to care for the people to whom He preached:

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! ~Matthew 23:37

My dear sister, no matter what kind of mother you’ve had, know this: Your Savior stands ready to fulfill your need of comfort, help, and love. His Word and His people can give you that boost of encouragement when you’re struggling; that correction when you need it; and, best of all, that tender comfort you long for when life is painful and your heart is wounded. Run into His arms. He is faithful and strong, and will never leave you.

I don’t know what became of Mama R. I hope her babies will be ok. But I am comforted in the knowledge that my own mother is in heaven, and I will see her again. This comfort, in turn, renews my zeal to pray that my own children will love the Lord, and I long for this to happen in my lifetime. But, whether I am here or in heaven, as I struggle with the pain and challenges of this life, I know where to find comfort. My Jesus can “mother” me all the days of my life, and He will welcome me into His arms when I finally arrive home.