As a mother-in-law myself, I try hard to be what I ought to be both for my son and his wife, who is now not just my daughter-in-law, but in my mind, my daughter, especially in the spirit. I think I might be a bit more sensitive to this than most—you see, my mother-in-law did not like me. Even after 39 years of trying, I never made the cut.
To her credit, she was a fine Christian woman. She stayed faithful to the Lord despite family opposition, her husband’s severe illnesses and injuries, financial woes, and worst of all, losing a child to cancer. She converted her husband and raised both of her remaining children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. After all, I married one of them, and I know much of what she went through and exactly how she raised him.
She had many things going against her but managed to stay faithful, raise godly children, and never lose the joy of her relationship with her Lord. To have done all that despite her many and severe trials makes our lack of a relationship more than forgivable. I was certainly less than the least of all those things she did accomplish.
But I do not want my daughter-in-law to miss out on what should be a wonderful relationship. So I have decided to begin a new study—the ideal mother-in-law, which is what I want to be for Brooke. That’s what we will be discussing together this week, Monday through Friday.
It is not difficult to find mothers-in-law in the Bible. The difficult thing is finding a detailed relationship between a mother- and daughter-in-law. Isaac and Rebekah both were “grieved” by the first two women Esau married, but they were Canaanites, Hittites to be specific, Gen 26:34,35. Although their complaints came before the actual marriage, Samson’s parents had the same problem with their future daughter-in-law, Judges 14:3—she was a Philistine.
Tamar was Judah’s daughter-in-law but that is a situation so complex as to be unusable in our discussion. I can know that others surely had in-laws, but I do not know how they got along without making suppositions far beyond the realm of authenticity.
No, the best example we can find is the usual one—Naomi and Ruth, and let’s not forget Orpah, who is often tarred with accusations she does not deserve. So I plan to study those in depth this week to see how we can all improve our in-law relationships. I hope you will make a point to join me.
…a man of Bethlehem in Judah went to sojourn in the country of Moab, he and his wife and his two sons. The name of the man was Elimelech and the name of his wife Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem in Judah. They went into the country of Moab and remained there. But Elimelech, the husband of Naomi, died, and she was left with her two sons. These took Moabite wives; the name of the one was Orpah and the name of the other Ruth. They lived there about ten years, and both Mahlon and Chilion died, so that the woman was left without her two sons and her husband. Then she arose with her daughters-in-law to return from the country of Moab, for she had heard in the fields of Moab that the LORD had visited his people and given them food. So she set out from the place where she was with her two daughters-in-law, and they went on the way to return to the land of Judah, Ruth 1:1-7.