Single Mothers, Have Faith!


“O Woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire." Matt 15:28

In today’s judgmental culture, when single mothers are singled out and criticized for all of society’s ills, many single moms are soaking up all that negativity because they don’t see it for what it is. Criticisms from political and religious leaders don’t merely hurt the single mother’s feelings—those harsh words can, if she doesn’t actively resist them, convince her that God isn’t really on her side.

A single mother who isn’t on her guard against that kind of judgmental negativity may begin to feel, deep down, that God doesn’t want the very best for her family. Indeed, many churches lavish so much praise on two-parent families (with little heed to what goes on inside them) that single mothers eventually leave the church with the sad notion that God plays favorites, wanting the best for some children but not others. These fears about God’s indifference profoundly impact the single mother’s ability to love herself, stand up for her children, and pursue her dreams.

One of the first single mothers mentioned in the Bible is Hagar. In Old Testament days, women were treated miserably. They could be enslaved and used as concubines for a married man’s sexual pleasure. Mistresses and multiple wives were common, and women had no rights to protection from assault or unjust treatment. It was a male-dominated world into which poor Hagar was born.

Hagar had become pregnant with Abraham’s child. Sarah, his wife, drove the expectant mother out of the house and into the desert. Imagine this pregnant girl’s fear! With no one to care for her, she wondered how she could possibly survive. Then God appeared to her and assured her that everything was going to be all right. In Genesis 16:13, Hagar called God El Roi, "the God who sees".

This young woman could have succumbed to the social rejection and scorn to which she and other single mothers of her day were subjected, but one thing kept her going: She believed that God Himself wanted the best for her and her baby. With such an Advocate in her corner, how could she doubt her worth? If Hagar, after all the injustice she suffered, knew that Someone was watching over her, surely you and I can.

The Biggest Difference Between Single Mothers

When people talk about “single mothers”, they don’t realize that we’re not all alike. Single mothers differ from one another in attitudes, values, occupations, lifestyles, income, education, and priorities. In a word, while we share many of the same concerns, each of us is unique. And one of the most fundamental differences among us is the way we think about our lives as individuals, as women and as single moms: either we think we deserve the very best that life has to offer, or we think we’d better just “lie low” and take whatever scraps fall in our direction.

This mindset determines what we aim for, experience, and achieve in life. It reflects how we were treated in childhood, how we think about ourselves, what we assume that others think of us, and, most importantly, how we imagine God sees us. Whenever we try something new or have to make a decision, some of us think in terms of merely surviving (just getting by and surviving from day to day), while others of us think in terms of thriving (following our dreams and insisting on an abundant, joyful life).

Think back to some of your past decisions, and to something you’re grappling with now: do you tend to aim low, hoping only to avoid trouble, or do you insist on the best for you and your family? This has nothing to do with the particular circumstances of your life right now—you may be wealthy or broke; getting a promotion or standing in the unemployment line; in a relationship of looking for one—your mindset influences everything you do, everything you hope to do, and whether you dread or look forward to the future.

Like anybody else, we single mothers can’t avoid the hard times, but we can keep searching for a better way—if we believe, deep down, that God really wants us to succeed and be happy, not just scrape by!

Dr. Whitehurst is currently writing a book for single mothers and their families.

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