And seeing the multitudes, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and downcast, like sheep without a shepherd. ~Matt. 9:36
As moms wanting the best for our children, we can become “distressed” and “downcast” quite easily these days. Watching the news alone can lead to that reaction. Financial issues, world powers in contention, immorality reaching its icy fingers deeper and deeper into the fabric of our culture–it’s all distressing. Now, perhaps when you think of someone who’s distressed, you picture a worried soul, biting their nails or wringing their hands in fear.
But the word “distressed” here actually means HARASSED! Now that’s a stronger word. Definitely a more active, external thing is being expressed in these verses than it first appears. Harassed to me implies being stalked, hit, mocked or otherwise seriously bothered. And it has a sort of tiresome, never-ending feeling to it.
“Downcast” sounds pretty passive at first glance, too. Maybe we could refer to Eeyore as the ultimate “downcast” character–the type who’s always got their glum face on; mopey, shuffling their feet.
One of my favorite Winnie the Pooh stories occurs when Piglet and Tigger are stuck up in a tree, and someone suggests that perhaps if everyone in the Hundred Acre Wood climbs up onto Eeyore’s back, they could reach the stranded ones. Then when it strikes someone else that perhaps this isn’t the best idea, as it could result in the demise of the gloomy donkey, Eeyore states,”Maybe it will and maybe it won’t; you don’t know until it happens, and that’s the fun of it.”
Some days I know I feel that way–we’ll just see if one more thing will kill me; maybe it will or maybe it won’t; we don’t know until it happens, and that’s the fun of it!
The note to the side of this verse in my Bible says that this word “downcast” literally means “thrown down.” So much for passive! To be truly downcast, then, one must have first been *picked up* and then, THROWN! More like a scene from Lord of the Rings than Winnie the Pooh!
As I wash pots and pans (only when they won’t fit in the dishwasher) and explain division (repeatedly) and read poetry aloud (on the rare occasions when we can get the baby to be quiet), it’s easy for me to forget that I’m in a battle. From the time as an eighteen year old Bible school student when I asked God to tell me what He’d made me to be and He answered, “a mother,” I’ve wanted to do a really good job at it. But being a mom isn’t my calling. To term our current vocations or situations in life as “callings” is to set ourselves up for failure and disappointment if and when those jobs change. If a distance runner who glorifies God in their running becomes crippled, have they then lost their “calling?” How about a mother whose children perish in a car accident?
No, our call is to Jesus Himself. Motherhood is part of our journey on the way to becoming like Him; the environment and tool the Father uses to shape us into the image of Christ. It’s also the strategic position we’ve taken in order to fashion our arrows to be used in the epic struggle against evil. And just as a country’s weapons-manufacturing plants are considered fair game and prime targets in a time of war, so our homes are primary targets of our enemy.
If you are a heart-at-home mom who’s endeavoring to nurture as many saplings as God gives you (overpopulation!), to keep them close so they grow straight and tall (overprotecting!), to raise them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord so they will fly straight and true (indoctrination!), and striving to make their minds sharp by educating them in great literature, mathematics and the history of nations so they won’t be taken in by the vain philosophies of this world (intolerance!), then you, dear mother, are deeply involved in weapons manufacturing, and you have thereby made your own home a target. And if you’re feeling harassed and thrown down, it’s not just your imagination! There is a war going on.
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in heavenly places.~ Eph 6:12
But take heart! Listen again to what He said . . .
(Jesus) felt compassion for them because they were distressed and downcast, like sheep not having a shepherd. ~Matt. 9:36
Aaaaahhh, but we do!
‘Behold, I Myself will search for My sheep and seek them out. As a shepherd cares for his herd in the day when he is among his scattered sheep, so I will care for My sheep and will deliver them from all the places to which they were scattered on a cloudy and gloomy day . . . I will feed my flock, and I will bring them to rest,’ declares the Lord God. ‘I will seek the lost, bring back the scattered, bind up the broken, and strengthen the sick . . .’ Eze. 34:11-16.
Hallelujah! And thank goodness! He is the Good Shepherd. He lays down His life for the sheep, and He gently leads those who are with young (that’s us!) Are you feeling distressed or downcast today? How about harassed or thrown down? Has it been cloudy and gloomy where you are? Are you lost, scattered, broken or sick? Call the Shepherd! He will rescue you, dear mom.