Can a Woman Forget Her Nursing Child?

Three Mothers:  Ardell Turner, Dianna Solomon, Shawnda Warren


I watched several mothers and fathers say good bye to their children as they boarded a bus for the annual “Black and Ivy College Tour” sponsored by my church, the Plymouth United Church of Christ in Detroit, Michigan.  Twenty -nine children are making the trip.  The itinerary includes: Fisk University, Tuskegee, Talladega, Dillard, Xavier, Morehouse, Spelman, North Carolina A and T, and Duke.  The College Tour is personally important to me because before I was ordained or even entered divinity school, I was a youth worker at my church.  In 1972 I organized the first Black College Tour from my church.  The itinerary on that first college tour was similar to this tour:  Fisk, Tuskegee, Taladega, Dillard, Lemoyne Owen, Spelman, Morehouse and the King Center in Atlanta when it was still in portable trailers.  We met Coretta Scott King who was a friend of my father.  I was only 19 and in some respects looked like a kid myself.  I had to ask the parents of each of the youth for their permission to participate on the trip.  The mothers I spoke with 43 years ago were similar to the mothers today- they love their children, care for their children and want only the best for their children.


In the photo, three mothers posed for a picture as they watched their children board the bus.  The mothers were happy, excited and hopeful for their children.  As I looked at the mothers, I thought about the words of Isaiah:

Isaiah 49: 15 Can a woman forget her nursing child, or show no compassion for the child of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. [1]

Isaiah goes on to contrast and compare the love of a mother for her children with the love of God for Israel.  Isaiah is speaking to Israel which is in Babylonian exile.  The Prophet Isaiah is reassuring Israel that God has not and will not forget them and ultimately will bring them home.  Listen to a little more about the commitment of God to the people of Israel:

Isaiah 49: 16 See, I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands;

your walls are continually before me.

17  Your builders outdo your destroyers,

and those who laid you waste go away from you.

18  Lift up your eyes all around and see;

they all gather, they come to you.

As I live, says the Lord,

you shall put all of them on like an ornament,

and like a bride you shall bind them on. [2]


Questions for Reflection:

  1. What does this scripture tell you about the commitment of God to the people of God?
  2. Why do you think Isaiah compares the love of God to the love of a mother?



Lord, I thank you for your commitment.  I thank you for your support.  I thank you for your care.  I thank you for watching over me when I could not and would not watch over myself.  When I stumbled, you picked me up.  In my confusion you have set me at peace.  In my poverty, you have shown me a pathway to prosperity.  Lord, I give my commitment to you.  Lord, I give you my heart, my soul, my very life.  Through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior I pray.  Amen.


Written by Rev. Dr. Nicholas Hood III

Photo by Nicholas Hood III

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[1] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Is 49:15). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[2] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Is 49:16–18). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.