In Visakhapatnam India, a person captured a video of a mother hen using her wings to shield her chicks from heavy torrential rain. Five chicks are seen huddling under her wings as the heavy rain poured on her. Everyone else had run for cover, but there she stood in the middle of the road, determined to protect her chicks. The person posted the video on Reddit and it was upvoted 50,000 times[i]. I’m sure by now it’s been upvoted millions of times.
A rather more famous story is of the firefighter who found a mother hen burnt beyond recognition. The firefighter initially thought it was just a lump but when he drew close, he noticed they were the burnt remains of a mother hen. Nonchalantly he kicked off the dead carcass only to discover four little chicks hiding under her remains. The mother’s body had protected the chicks from the searing heat. She had endured the fire to save her chicks. She died so her chicks could live.
Today is Mother’s Day and many a preacher will use these stories to show the important role our mothers have played in our lives and rightly so. Our mum’s, much like the two mother hens, in so many ways, give up their lives for our sake. So Mother’s Day becomes a celebration—a celebration of the sacrifices mothers make on our behalf. And so, from the beginning of the service, the mum’s receive a flower and a gift bag, the pastor’s sermon revolves around the mothers, and after the service, we all have Mother’s Day lunch in our favorite restaurant.
I sometimes wish I could get into the head and heart of every mother and listen to the conversations taking place deep in their psyche. I think if they aired those conversations most mums would want the world to know how tired, frustrated, and sad they’ve become. Why? I think the pressure to become an exemplary mother is immense. Our society tells us that the perfect mother has to raise kids, have a career, own a business, invest in properties, look beautiful, become a gym bunny, have an active social media life, be married to a visionary, further her studies, have a good credit score, drive the best car, live in a good neighborhood, and be spiritual or religious. For much of my childhood, I believed the conventional wisdom that mums are good at multitasking, yet research by a professor and two researchers concluded that the evidence for the stereotype that women are better multitaskers is, so far, fairly weak[ii]. In other words, men and women are equally bad at multitasking.
I think there is too much pressure on women. There’s always been pressure. It’s no wonder I meet a lot of mothers both young and old who have developed a tough exterior—a tough exterior developed out of always fighting to prove their worth. Steve Harvey’s Think like a Man rings true. It is then safe to assume that chronic diseases such as hypertension, heart problems, insomnia, hormonal imbalances, skin allergies, etc., are rife among mums. There is no way you can bear all that weight and your body doesn’t give. Something has to give, and it’s usually your health.
I think Jesus offers our mothers an alternative.
Here’s the alternative
Jesus was in the last stretch of his ministry when he came to Jerusalem. When he got to Jerusalem, he went to the temple grounds and held a massive rally. Towards the end of his discourse, he says this
Matthew 23:37 (BBE)
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, putting to death the prophets, and stoning those who are sent to her! Again and again, would I have taken your children to myself as a bird takes her young ones under her wings, and you would not!
Most commentators and theologians tell us that most likely he saw Jerusalem’s utter destruction, which took place in AD 70. You can sense his anguish and horror. How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn’t let me.
This is a picture of grace and this grace, this covering under his wings is what Jesus the ultimate mother hen offers to mums.
Mummy, you have been under a constant barrage of rainfall and storms. Your life is spinning out of control. People around you praise you, but deep down you know you are a failure. You are saddled with guilt and condemnation and of late you’ve been lashing out. Being a mum is a thankless task, you’ve realized. It’s not really fulfilling as the magazine editors and authors claim. Even if your kids have turned outright, you know very well there’s something missing in their lives. Your kids aren’t immoral people, but they lack joy and freedom. And if your kids have veered off the tracks, they have laid the blame at your doorstep. And this is beside the pressure of you taking care of your elderly parents.
On this Mother’s Day and perhaps beyond, Jesus, the ultimate mother hen invites you to come under his wings and find grace, rest, solace, and refuge. As a bird, Jesus wants to take you under her wings. Why? Because under his wings, you find everything you need for this life. Under his wings, you will find his grace to help in time of need, his righteousness for your failures, his rest for your weariness, his strength for your weakness, his glory for your shame, his power for your impotence, his healing for your sickness, his joy for your sorrow, his dance for your mourning, his wealth for your poverty and so much more.
Why does he offer you all these? Because at the cross, Jesus had no one to shelter him from the rain of judgment. His father forsook him, abandoned him, and the rain of judgment fell on him. He was burnt beyond recognition. And when it seems as if the fire had won, as if death had won, he rose from the grave. Like the mother hen, he suffered the searing heat but defeated the searing heat. Why? He did it all for you, mummy.
So mummy, come under his wings. Come and rest under his wings.
Happy Mother’s Day, Jenny.
Happy Mother’s Day to all Mums.
That’s what grace looks like.