Let go and hang on: A single mother’s perspective

Published on February 16, 2023

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 sounds of her 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 hidden 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. 

An example we can follow

When we look at 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 nurse him. But there is another powerful lesson here for us as parents.

I want you to imagine what Jochebed experienced. With her own two eyes, she had watched the enemy slaughter children. When she passed the Nile on her way to the fields and the brick building, she 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, likely some of her own family, die at the hands of the Egyptians. She had seen horrific things. 

Jochebed had protected her son for as long as she could. As a mom of three children with my own story of bondage and pain, I can attest to the innate desire of a mama bear doing all she can to defend her cubs. But Jochebed had reached the point where she had no other choice but to let go and place her son in the hands of God. So, in a final desperate act to save her son, Jochebed put her little one in a basket, set it into the Nile river, and, with trembling hands, let go.

Biblical trust

The Lord was merciful in saving Moses, but we often forget how he saved Moses. It wasn’t just anybody who drew Moses out of the Nile and raised him. It was Pharaoh’s daughter. This means that Jochebed had to watch her son be raised by the same enemy responsible for all the bloodshed. Think of the psychological torture this woman must have endured! Can you imagine walking into the palace of a murdering tyrant and having to watch your child be raised to speak the language of the enemy, dress as the enemy, and partake in the customs of the enemy? I’m sure Jochebed laid in bed at night wondering what kind of paganism her son was learning and what kind of perversion he was being exposed to. As a mother, I’m curious if she sometimes wondered if death would have been a better fate than being forced to watch her child be indoctrinated to serve the idol gods of Egypt. If she’s human, she likely had many of the same fears any parent might have when their children are out of their home.

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 we do not want. When our children are under our roof, we assume we can produce the desired end result because, at that moment, we appear to be in control. We can decide when our children go to bed, what they eat, what they watch on TV, etc. But when our children are not in our arms or in the bedroom down the hall, we can easily succumb to panic, fearful that they will grow up to be drug addicts, atheists, or needing to be bailed out of jail. The problem is that we trust in our own ability and forget God is ultimately the One who is in control.

Will we trust God like Jochebed?

For the single parent letting go of their child every other weekend, or for the parent waving goodbye as their son or daughter packs up and heads to college, the only way we can have surpassing peace is to let go of our perceived control and hang on to the God who is in perfect control of all things. God instructs us parents to be faithful in training up our children in truth. But he also tells us time and time again to trust him fully and completely. Jochebed had no assurance that God would protect her son from the crocodiles or from Pharaoh’s fury. She had no way of knowing that Moses would eventually reject all he had been indoctrinated to believe and would choose to suffer with God’s people. She didn’t know the end of the story, and neither do we. So, like her, may we choose to be faithful parents and leave the rest to him.

This article was originally published at Where Joy Is, 2019 and most recently edited for Christian Parenting publication, 2023

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Kristen Lisemby Rosener

Kristen Lisemby Rosener is an author, wife, and mom, with a heart for hurting women and children. Using her own story, she writes with vulnerability and love in order to equip and encourage women to find their strength and joy in Christ. Kristen is the author of Where Joy Is: Finding Joy in the Midst of Suffering, and The Purple Pickle, a series for hurting children. She is a contributing writer for The Better Mom and has been featured in other Gospel centered websites. Kristen blogs at WhereJoyIs.com where she tackles issues like depression, motherhood and single parenting, identity, and joy. You can also connect with her via Instagram at @wherejoyis. Kristen resides in central Arkansas with her husband and three children.

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