FIERCE is the adjective that comes to mind. I felt it the first time a kid was mean to my first son. We were in a playground when Isaac was about two, and a boy much older than he was pushed him down the slide. Isaac was fine, but I almost ripped out the mean kid’s throat. It didn’t help that the boy’s mother was sitting in the car, smoking, oblivious to his actions. So I corrected the child, rather sternly, and he went to another slide to play. He kept looking over his shoulder at me with horror in his eyes. I think I scared him. Don’t mess with my cubs!
I was scared too. In a brief moment, I realized that I wouldn’t always be there; the day would come when Isaac would be on his own to fight his own battles. In an instant of excruciating agony, I realized that I would have to put him in God’s hands to protect him or I would go mad.
And now I have two boys and this agonizing love has multiplied.
There are two horrible stories in the Bible that haunt me now. In both, baby boys are slaughtered, and their mothers have to stand by helplessly watching. Twice, wicked men kill male babies in desperate attempts to retain power:
Then Pharaoh gave this order to all his people: “Throw every newborn Hebrew boy into the Nile River. But you may let the girls live.” (Ex 1:22)
Herod was furious when he realized that the wise men had outwitted him. He sent soldiers to kill all the boys in and around Bethlehem who were two years old and under, based on the wise men’s report of the star’s first appearance. Herod’s brutal action fulfilled what God had spoken through the prophet Jeremiah: “A cry was heard in Ramah—/weeping and great mourning. /Rachel weeps for her children,/ refusing to be comforted,/ for they are dead.” (Matt 2: 16-18)
How horrible. I can’t imagine it. I don’t want to imagine it.
And there’s another mother and son story in the Bible that stirs my heart like never before: that of Mary and Jesus. I imagine Mary holding this precious baby boy and hearing such profound prophesy about him, and then these awesome, but bitter words:
Then Simeon blessed them, and he said to Mary, the baby’s mother, “This child is destined to cause many in Israel to fall, but he will be a joy to many others. He has been sent as a sign from God, but many will oppose him. As a result, the deepest thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your very soul.” (Luke 2:34-35)
How did it feel to raise the Messiah? As special as Jesus was, though, I am sure Mary felt the same fierce love for him as mothers do for their sons today. I am sure she beamed with pride at his accomplishments and feared the sword that would pierce her soul.
It is amazing to realize that these intense feelings of love we harbor are but a microcosm of the love God has for us. His love is more fierce, more profound, more vast than mine for my sons. My love is but a taste of His love: my pride, my joy, my ferocious care but a human, imperfect version of His. And He is the author of both maternal and paternal love.
I love this song and it certainly is apropos this time of year. The love of a mother for her son. The love of God for us: