Mother’s Day is one of those holidays that both the church and the world celebrate. As I kid it was a great day. My dad would always buy something special for my mom. We might have cooked something special, but it was a Sunday, though, and the first day of the week has its own routines. These days, there are tons of graduations on Mother’s Day weekend. That changes the dynamic a bit. Right?

But Mother’s Day isn’t a celebration for all. It can be tough for many. It’s tough for those who have lost a child. Or who are spending the last Mother’s Day with a sick mom. Or a first Mother’s Day with no mom around. It’s tough on those who would love to be mothers but aren’t. Or for those with abusive moms. Or estranged moms. These situations are difficult, and today only intensifies that pain.

It’s a tough decision each year — how do we handle Mother’s Day? We want to honor moms, but not ignore those hurting. That’s a fine line to walk. I came across this question while wrestling with this “holiday.” Here’s the question:  Should we be surprised that such intense joy and sorrow are wrapped up in motherhood?

God’s first recorded words to Adam and Eve implied motherhood: “Be fruitful and multiply.” Motherhood was part of Eden, and it should have been an experience of pure joy.

But after the couple sinned, God pronounced the consequences of their rebellion. To Eve He said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children.” This pain goes beyond the physical pain of childbirth — it includes everything painful about childbearing and motherhood: miscarriage, infertility, SIDS, abortion, rebellious children… the list could go on and on.

But we don’t stop reading at Genesis 3:16 — the story continues. Four verses later it says, “The man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living” (3:20). Despite the curse, life would come, and redemption would come through life. The first thing that happens after Adam and Eve are expelled from Eden is a birth — God’s mercy in the midst of His curse.

Eventually, Christ Himself will come, “born of woman,” to bring salvation to his people and break that curse (Galatians 4:4). Until the redemption of all things, however, the effects of the curse are still with us. Motherhood continues to be a mixture of great joy and tremendous pain. We live in a time that requires us to mourn over all that is broken and rejoice over what is good and right. At the same time.

On this Mother’s Day, weep for yourself and for those you love who mourn over infertility, miscarriages, abortions, wayward children, and other consequences of the curse. At the same time, rejoice for everything good and right in motherhood that shines as a testimony to God’s goodness, mercy, and redemption. Celebrate life, extol the praiseworthy deeds of the moms around you, and praise God that He will one day, finally and fully, set everything right and wipe every tear from our eyes.

Let joy and sadness mingle today. As it should every day.