Sometimes a pathway to God can be opened up by how we think about God or how we imagine God. One image that I have found helpful is to understand that God is like a mother.
This is not unique with me. Julian of Norwich wrote, “As truly as God is our Father, so truly is God our Mother.” In Scripture, the prophet Isaiah used this image as well. “You will nurse and be carried on the hip and bounced on the knee. As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you.”¹
Isaiah pictures God as nursing us like a new mother. This is a reminder that God feeds us with food and drink. Every meal we consume comes from the bounty of God’s creation. Additionally, our hearts and minds are fed on the Word of God. We also have ‘vitamin enriched’ (for lack of a better phrase!) spiritual food in Holy Communion. And instead of being drunk on wine, we are encouraged to be filled with the Spirit.
Next, Isaiah imagines us as being carried on the hip by God. God never casts us away. God always holds us. Like a mother, God will always carry us through the twists and turns of life.
Then, in a wonderful picture, Isaiah, perhaps remembering his own mother’s actions, thinks of God as bouncing us on God’s knees! The word translated ‘bounce’ is only used three other times in the Hebrew Scripture. There it is translated as ‘play’, ‘cheer’, and ‘delight’. As a mother brings a smile to the face of her child, so can God fill our mouths with laughter and our hearts with joy.
Lastly, Isaiah writes that like a mother, God will comfort us. The Hebrew word translated ‘comfort’ is used in reference to God 9 times in the Book of Isaiah. It is the image of someone sighing over the pain of another. So like a good mother, God notices our pain, takes some of it away, and helps us to live with the rest.
I am thankful that God is as much like a mother as a father.
¹Isaiah 66:12b-13a (Common English Bible). Several translations in verse 12b use ‘her’ instead of ‘the’ which makes the phrases refer back to Mother Zion. The CEB is more literal (there is no ‘her’ in the Hebrew) which allows for the interpretation that I have given.
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