A teacher asked a boy this question: "Suppose your mother baked a pie and there were seven of you - your parents and five children. What part of the pie would you get?" "A sixth," replied the boy. "I'm afraid you don't know your fractions," said the teacher. "Remember, there are seven of you." "Yes, teacher," said the boy, "but you don't know my mother. Mother would say she didn't want any pie."
As I re-read this little piece earlier today, two things came to my mind. The first is the noticeable parallel to the noble or virtuous wife as found in the Old Testament Book of Proverbs, chapter 31, verses 10-31:
10 A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.
11Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.
12She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.
13She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands.
14She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar.
15She gets up while it is still night; she provides food for her family and portions for her female servants.
16She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks.
18She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night.
19In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
20She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.
21When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
22She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
23Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
24She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes.
25She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.
26She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
27She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her:
29“Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.”
30Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.
Take particular note of verse 15, which has to do with the provision of food for loved ones. Though separated by some three thousand years, the mother depicted in the story and the woman depicted in Proverbs bear a striking resemblance. Both are very loving, devoted, hard-working, and self-sacrificing individuals who seem to care more for the needs of others than for themselves.
The second thing that comes to mind is that there have been a great many such women in my own life. My own two earthly grandmothers and my beloved mother are all represented in both the story and the Proverb. So is my precious mother-in-law. While the former three are all now in Heaven, my precious mother-in-law is alive and well in this world.
As Mother’s Day, 2019 approaches, I can only trust that my two grandmothers and my mother all passed on to their eternal reward fully aware that I was appreciative for all they had done for me.
And as my mother-in-law now lives out her retirement years, I plan to do all I can to communicate to her just how thankful I am for what all she has done for me. For I fully realize that it was in large part due to her hard work and great sacrifice that my wife and I have been as richly blessed as we have in life.
For these reasons, if and when she reads this, I hope she hears me saying: “Thank you for all you have given on my behalf!”
Perhaps you too have a grandmother, a mother, or a mother-in-law who have sacrificed greatly on your behalf. If so, and if any of them are still alive, would not this week be an appropriate time to seek them out and let them know how much they have meant to you?
After all, the concluding verse of Proverbs 31, verse 31, admonishes us to do just that: “Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.”
POEM: Bits and Pieces, June, 1990, p. 10. Also available widely online. See, for instance, https://www.preaching.com/sermon-illustrations/illustration-mothers-sacrifice/.