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There have been a number of publications in recent years estimating the monetary value of a stay-at-home mom. They look at mom’s various roles, her number of hours worked, the savings on outside childcare, and crunch it all together to spit out a number usually in the neighborhood of $100,000. That’s one way to estimate a mother’s value, I suppose; but rather than looking to economists for guidance on the matter, we can recognize that God is a much more reliable resource.

Just how valuable is a mother? Throughout Scripture, God gives us a good sense of how much He values mothers. For instance, Jesus once expressed His great desire to gather the people of Jerusalem together in His arms “as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings.” (Matthew 23:37) God inspired King David to describe in terms of motherhood the great care with which He crafts each individual person: “For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb.” (Psalm 139:13) He also speaks through Isaiah in motherhood language to impress upon us that He could never forget His people: “Can a woman forget her nursing child, And not have compassion on the son of her womb? Surely they may forget, Yet I will not forget you.” (Isaiah 49:15) We cannot understand God in God’s terms; the best we can do is to understand God in human terms. And so, God frequently employs the beautiful ideal of motherhood to impress upon us the self-sacrificial love He has for us.

And what a beautiful illustration motherhood is! Mom often does so much thankless work behind the scenes, often concerns herself with the protection and nurturing of her children, and often thinks less of her own desires and needs than those of her family. And in this way, that motherhood ideal can serve as a peek behind the curtain of God’s selfless love for His children. Of course, reality doesn’t often line up with that ideal, and many a mother is burdened with the guilt of her failures as a mom. How many of us entered parenthood with the plans of being a perfect parent? How quickly those illusions crumbled apart, leaving us with the frequent prayer, “God, please help me become a better parent!”

And yet, this acknowledgement can help us to understand the true value of a mother. In many areas of life, value is determined on the basis of what someone is willing to pay. And for you, mom, God set the price by exchanging His Son’s life for yours. He redeemed you from all of your sins, including even those failures which burden your heart. Even though you may sometimes be a disappointment in your own eyes, in God’s eyes you are as a precious jewel. And this is a love that God will never grow out of, which will never fade away, so that even if some of us have been separated by death from our moms this Mother’s Day, in Christ, death does not separate them from God.

And if, for some reason, this Mother’s Day is not an occasion for you to celebrate—perhaps due to some rift in your family relationships, or perhaps if you were never able to become a mother—remember that you have something even better than any Mother’s Day card. You have God Himself present with you, God Who has a heart full of love, ears always open, and a mind always filled with thoughts of you. We know this to be true, since God Himself said, “Surely they may forget, Yet I will not forget you.” (Isaiah 49:15)

Samuel Rodebaugh is pastor of Faith Lutheran Church of Manchester, Missouri.