One big, happy family

Published 9:29 pm Friday, May 8, 2015

By Dr. Thurman R. Hayes Jr.

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day, and, like most pastors, I am going to say a special prayer in which our congregation will express thanksgiving for Moms.

This is entirely appropriate. One of the Ten Commandments is, “Honor your father and your mother” (Exodus 20:12). The Apostle Paul repeats this commandment in Ephesians 5:2. Jesus at one point chastised the religious leaders of His day for their neglect of elderly parents (Mark 7:10-13). And, while hanging on the cross, Jesus instructed a close friend to care for His mother in His absence (John 19:26-27).

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So it is biblical and right to recognize, honor, and show appreciation to mothers on this special day. Moms usually don’t get enough credit for all their hard work and behind-the-scenes toil and tears.

But we should also recognize that Mother’s Day is a tough day for many women. Some have experienced the pain of a child’s death. As a pastor, I have seen this trauma up close, and the death of a young child is among the most shattering experiences people can go through.

For these moms, Mother’s Day contains a heartbreaking element, as they are reminded of the magnitude of their loss. They would give anything to hug their little one on this day, but they cannot. Their arms are empty. Those moms who have lost grown children will likewise feel some pangs of grief tomorrow.

This is not to say we shouldn’t have Mother’s Day. But we should be sensitive to the fact that all holidays are difficult for those who grieve over missing family members. These are the times when the family would typically be together, having fun and sharing love. The absence of a loved one is especially felt during such times.

Tomorrow will also be difficult for couples who would love to have children but have been unable to conceive or who have conceived but suffered miscarriages.

These couples have a deep longing in their hearts for children, and Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are reminders that it has not happened.

These days can also be tough for singles in our churches. Sometimes single people can get the impression that church is just about families. Yet Jesus was single, and so was the Apostle Paul.

In fact, in 1 Corinthians 7, Paul makes it clear that single people have some major advantages when it comes to undivided service in the things of God (1 Corinthians 7:32-35).

Singles without children have more time and energy to give to God’s work than busy moms and dads. The same can be said for couples without children. God has designed all of his servants to make a unique contribution.

One of the beautiful things about the church is that the church is itself a family. People without children can become like spiritual parents to others in the church, as Paul was to Timothy.

He addresses Timothy as “my true child in the faith” (1 Timothy 1:2) and “my beloved child” (2 Timothy 1:2). In a similar way, I have known women who never had children but who became like loving mothers and grandmothers to many.

So tomorrow, let’s remember our moms and celebrate family, but let’s also celebrate the beautiful fact that the Body of Christ is itself one big family.

Dr. Thurman R. Hayes is senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Suffolk. Follow him on Twitter at @ThurmanHayesJr.