Updated: Jan 31
Jochebed moved the bulrushes quietly as she waded knee-deep in the Nile. Inside the wicker basket in her hands, she could hear the soft coo-ing of her little baby boy. She took a deep breath as she scanned the river bank for crocodiles. The coast was clear.
Her hands trembled as she pulled the basket close and looked down into the innocent face of her son. For three months she had hid him from Pharaoh's cruelty and for three months he had been a happy and content little boy. Her heart swelled with love as she looked into his big brown eyes. But with the love came a deep ache. She gripped the basket as images flashed through her mind of Pharaoh's soldiers taking the newborn baby boys from the arms of her friends and family and tossing them into the crocodile infested river. The Nile ran red with blood. The screams and wails of lament echoed in her mind. The sound of footsteps, the swords held against the parents, and the mocking laughter of the army tormented her dreams. For three months she had escaped the same fate but, now, here she was at the bank of the Nile with no other choice but to let go of her baby too.
She looked up at the sky and searched the heavens. She had grown up being taught about the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He was a mighty God who had chosen Israel to be His people. But for hundreds of years Israel had endured bitter bondage at the hands of the Egyptians Why? Jochebed thought. Why so much pain? When will the deliverer come? She looked back down at her precious child. I cannot protect you anymore, little one, she whispered. Only Jehovah can now. She closed her eyes and with shaking hands, she let the basket go and slowly exited the river. A deep sob of anguish caught in her throat as she made her way back home.
The natural make up of a mother is to nurture and protect her child. As a mom of three with my own story of bondage and pain, I can attest to the innate desire of a Mama bear defending her cubs. When we look at the story of Jochebed and the story of Moses, we typically focus on the covert basket launch into the Nile, the rescue by Pharaoh's daughter and the heroic genius of Miriam suggesting Moses' own mother to nurse him. But let's adjust the lens because there is so much more to see.
I want you to imagine what this woman experienced. With her own two eyes Jochebed watched as the enemy slaughtered children. She had to pass the Nile on her way to the fields and the brick building and likely saw the carcasses of baby boys - maybe even her own nephews and cousins - floating in the river. She had grown up in slavery and saw her people die at the hands of the Egyptians, maybe even her own grandparents and friends being some of them. She had seen horrific things and as a final desperate act to save her own young son, she left him in God's hands only to watch him be raised by the same enemy who were responsible for all the bloodshed. That is not fair. It doesn't seem kind. The psychological torture this woman must have endured! The Lord was merciful in saving Moses and even more gracious in orchestrating the events that allowed Jochebed to nurse her own son, but can you imagine walking into the palace of a murdering tyrant and watching your child be raised to speak the language of the enemy, be dressed as the enemy and partake in the customs of the enemy? Imagine the nights Jochebed laid in bed wondering what kind of paganism her son was learning, what kind of perversion he was being exposed to, and what manner of life he was living. As a mother myself, I wonder if she questioned if death would have been a better fate than being forced to watch her child be indoctrinated to serve the idol gods of Egypt. I'm sure while she nursed him, she prayed over him, sang Hebrew lullabies to him, and told him about Noah and Abraham. But imagine the pain and the fear. Imagine her questioning God over and over and over again, because if she's human she likely did.
Any godly mother can testify to the battle of trusting the Lord. It is an easy thing to say we trust the heart of God. It is not an easy thing to actually demonstrate trust when His hands give us something that makes our own heart hurt. We want our children to grow up to be mighty men and women of Christ who uncompromisingly walk in His truth. When they are under our roof, we have a measure of confidence that we can produce that end result because, at the moment, we appear to be in control. But when they are not in our arms or in the bedroom down the hall from ours, we suddenly find ourselves lying awake at night in a panic that they will grow up to be drug addicts, atheists, or needing to be bailed out of jail. It's torturous when you see the enemy whispering in their ears and it's exhausting when we scramble around trying to insert our own whispering - hoping and praying that we can say enough that will tilt the scale and convince them to walk in the light instead of darkness. But that's not how it works.
Scripture tells us to train up our children and to diligently teach them the truth. It does not say that the enemy won't be right beside us teaching them lies with just as much diligence. The only way we can have surpassing peace is to let go of our control and simply hang on to the God who holds all things in His hand. God asks us to do our part and then asks that we trust Him to do His. Jochebed had no assurance that God would protect her son from the crocodiles or from Pharaoh's fury. She wasn't sure that all the prayers she prayed, tears she cried and stories she told of God would produce a harvest later on. She had no way of knowing Moses would eventually reject all he had been indoctrinated to believe and choose to suffer with God's people before finally leading them out of slavery. She didn't know the end and neither do we. We can only walk by faith. And truthfully, when one walks by faith, the ending is greater than if we were to have walked by sight.
May we, as mighty Mama's, be obedient and faith-filled women who still hang on Jesus even when our hands let go of the basket.