Motherhood is a woman’s greatest honor. God ordained it—That's why it's so valuable. God gave Eve to Adam, united them, and gave them the gift to pro-create when He commanded them to “be fruitful and multiply.” Scripture says, “The man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all the living” (Genesis 3:20).
We should thank God day and night that He has chosen to bring children into the world in the most miraculous and, yet, ordinary way imaginable! “For You (God) formed my inward parts; You knitted me together in my mother’s womb” (Psalm 139:13). God has chosen not to send children down from heaven or to drop them off here or there. He chose to create children through one husband and one wife. In doing this, and at the moment of conception, God turns the husband into a father and the wife into a mother. And God chooses to bless this world with children by forming them in the body of their own mother! What a great and glorious gift! God chose to create us, not with His hands from the heavens, but through the flesh and blood of our dear father and mother. Although God is the Author and Creator of Life, and although He in His infinite creativity and brilliance loves to create, and though He could create a thousand children in the blink of an eye, He chose not to. Rather, He chose to give to us sinful mortals the unspeakable joy of pro-creation. He chose to not keep this joy to Himself but to share it with us. God is a God of order, and it pleased Him to order His creation in this way. He chose to give us the joy of conception, of seeing the child grow in the womb, of seeing the child delivered in birth, and of seeing the child be nourished and fed by the body of his mother. What an honor.
This truly is one of the most remarkable sights to witness. The mother does things that no one else can do, not even the father. She experiences a pain in child-birth that no one else endures, and yet she also has a joy and honor that no one else shares. God created women specifically for the purpose of child-bearing. Listen to what Dr. Luther says:
“It has often been a great delight and wonder for me to see how the whole body of a woman is adapted and formed for the care of infants. How becoming that even little girls carry infants in their arms! And how appropriate are the gestures with which mothers handle the little ones when they hush a crying infant or lay him in the cradle! Let a man do these things, and you will say he acts like a dancing camel, so awkward are all his motions if he has only to touch an infant with his finger.”
As the world scoffs at motherhood, as the elite deride childbearing for selfish gain, as they despise having children for man-made vocations, God has blessed Christians with the full joy of His gift. In creation and through His Word, He has revealed the blessedness and honor of mothers. When mothers forget the blessedness of this gift because of the trouble and heartache, they must be reminded of this vocation of honor. Rev. C.F.W. Walther—the First President of the LCMS—encouraged his daughter when she expected her first child. He says,
“I must also remind you not to forget in your cares and burdens what a great gift of God it is to be blessed with offspring in that way. Think of it, is it not something great that God deems you worthy to bestow life and existence on an immortal human called to eternal life and dearly redeemed through Christ? If that little babe is successfully born into this world, this is a greater achievement than one thinks. For the little child is then there in order to know God, in all eternity and to praise Him and receive salvation. If God would give you a million dollars, this would be a lesser gift than a little child. Gold and silver will not only pass out of existence on the day of judgment, as will also the whole world, but in dying you must leave everything behind here; but not so with your little child; and when through God’s grace that little one learns to know the Savior and to believe in Him, you will rejoice with it in all eternity. Therefore do not be sad about the present inconvenience which the blessing of children brings with it, but thank God for it and spare your life and your strength, because the second life is now dependent upon yours—a precious, costly treasure, more splendid than precious stones or pearls. . . . Isn’t it true, you would not be willing to trade them for a whole kingdom? See from this how God has enriched you.”
The Large Catechism teaches us how to honor our mothers:
“Do more than love your parents; honor them. To this estate of fatherhood and motherhood God has given the distinction above all lower estates that He commands us not only to love our parents but also to honor them. For concerning brothers, sisters, and our neighbors in general He commands nothing higher than that we love them. In this way He sets father and mother apart, distinguishes them above all other persons on earth, and places them at His side. For to honor a person is a far higher matter than to love him; because honor does not comprise love alone but also deference, humility, and awe, as if we were in the presence of majesty there hidden. Nor does honor require that we merely address parents kindly and reverently, but that, both in our hearts and in our actions, we show and make it clear that we esteem them highly and, next to God, consider them supreme. For one whom we are sincerely to honor we must truly consider exalted and important. Therefore we must train young people to look upon their parents as God’s representatives and to remember that even though they are lowly, poor, frail, and peculiar, they are still the father and mother whom God gave them. They are not to be robbed of their honor because of their conduct and failings. Therefore we are not to look at the kind of persons they are but at God’s will, which has made and ordained it so. In other respects we are, of course, all alike in the eyes of God.”
As mothers are to be encouraged and honored, they are also to learn from the mother of our Lord. When God became flesh, He had a mother—Mary is the name of God’s mother. She is an example to all mothers. Because she loved and submitted to God, she joyfully submitted to her husband because it was God’s will. She didn’t trust in her work, her obedience, or her submissiveness to please God—She trusted in her son, God’s Son, whom God gave to suffer for her sins and justify her through faith. And although Mary could justifiably and endlessly boast in her own child and in God’s choosing, she chose not to. Rather, she humbled herself and treasured these things in her heart. She was glorified in her quietness, her submissiveness, and in motherhood. She didn’t look down on others. She didn’t boast in her motherhood or in her child; instead, she sang that God exalts the lowly. In her lowly flesh, she bore God. “And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn” (Luke 2:7). And while she had nothing, she trusted God to provide.
The question often is asked, "What about the barren? What about those women who never get married? How does God consider them?" Scripture teaches that through faith in their Lord, Jesus Christ, they bear much fruit because that is what God has promised. Listen to what the Holy Spirit says to those whom God has not made mothers:
“Sing, O barren one, who did not bear;
break forth into singing and cry aloud,
you who have not been in labor!
For the children of the desolate one will be more
than the children of her who is married,” says the LORD.
“Enlarge the place of your tent,
and let the curtains of your habitations be stretched out;
do not hold back; lengthen your cords
and strengthen your stakes.
For you will spread abroad to the right and to the left,
and your offspring will possess the nations
and will people the desolate cities.
“Fear not, for you will not be ashamed;
be not confounded, for you will not be disgraced;
for you will forget the shame of your youth,
and the reproach of your widowhood you will remember no more.
For your Maker is your husband,
the LORD of hosts is his name;
and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer,
the God of the whole earth he is called.
For the LORD has called you
like a wife deserted and grieved in spirit,
like a wife of youth when she is cast off,
says your God.
For a brief moment I deserted you,
but with great compassion I will gather you.
In overflowing anger for a moment
I hid my face from you,
but with everlasting love I will have compassion on you,”
says the LORD, your Redeemer
The barren, childless, and never-married should not concern themselves with how much service they might give to God. God’s strength is made perfect through weakness. Through suffering, He produces endurance and hope, and hope does not put us to shame (Romans 5:3-5). So, for you who say, “What about me? I don’t have children.” Learn that although you don’t have a child, you have God’s promise. He blesses you more than you can ever imagine. Don’t look at God’s blessings in terms of outward circumstances and benefits. Take God’s promise for what it’s worth because Jesus tells you what they are worth. Trust your Savior. Remember that your dear Lord has promised you an inconceivable joy in the resurrection, and that He has promised to give you a hundredfold now in this time and in the life to come.
You have God’s blessing hidden beneath sadness. And even though God has not given this joy and honor of motherhood to all people, He has given us all mothers. He teaches us to honor them, to love them, to cherish them. Proverbs 1:8-9 says, “Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching. Bind them always on your heart; fasten them around your neck.” This is how we should honor the mother’s God gave to us. Remember what burden she had in bearing you. Remember what trouble she had in feeding you. Remember how she went without sleep to give you rest, how she worked and wept to make you smile, how she gave her body to give you life. Remember how she taught you how much God loves you, what He thinks of you, and all that He has done for you! Remember how she brought you to the waters of Holy Baptism, how she taught you the Word of God and how to fold your hands and pray. Remember all she did for you. Remember, and never forget it! In remembering this, remember that this is how God chose to care for you. Take comfort in how God has brought you safely through birth, to life, and to this very day. Remember all that God has done for you through her.