Women of Welcome
The story in Exodus doesn’t tell us what Jochebed did after she “put the child in [the basket] and placed it among the reeds by the river bank” (Ex. 2:3). It notes that she leaves her older daughter Miriam to see what would happen, but Jochebed briefly disappears from the story. Was it her hope or a fragile plan that Pharaoh’s daughter might discover the child and request a local woman to nurse him? Even if it was, there was likely no guarantee, and it’s reasonable to imagine Jochebed felt the grief of saying goodbye to her son. Perhaps she experienced the physical consequences of the sudden stop of nursing a three-month-old. How were her hormones and emotions in the wake of a stressful birth experience and the heartbreak of loss? Did she and her husband Amram support each other through this difficult season or stay quiet? What friends or relatives may have been her support system?
Jochebed’s story demonstrates her boldness in the face of injustice, from her pregnancy in the midst of difficult times to her delivery of a baby boy who survived immediate death, to her hiding her son for three months, to her eventually releasing him into the river. But there is also bravery in holding the space for lament in the face of suffering. She may have cried out to God for Moses’ rescue and protection, but perhaps also for a reversal of the tragedy and injustice that had led her to the water’s edge. In Prophetic Lament: A Call for Justice in Troubled Times, author, pastor, and seminary professor Soong-Chan Rah writes,
“Lament recognizes the struggles of life and cries out for justice against existing injustices. The status quo is not to be celebrated but instead must be challenged.”2
Lamenting the injustices in the world is a bold practice that allows space for us to cry out to God about what is not right in the world while still holding onto hope. Today’s reflection started out with a verse from Psalm 13 and the despairing words of David. That psalm concludes with these verses:
“But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me” (Ps. 13:5–6).
2 Soong-Chan Rah, Prophetic Lament: A Call for Justice in Troubled Times (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2015), 23.