We expect men to be tough when the situation calls for it, but women have to be tough in their own way.
Eve struggled with the shame of her sin and the sorrow she felt when one of her sons murdered the other (Genesis 3-4).
Rebekah carried a load of grief because of the women her son had married (Gen. 26:34-35).
Jochebed wrestled with her natural affection for her son Moses when she took him to the daughter of Pharaoh to become her son (Exod. 2:10).
The mother of Samson worried about her son because of his choice in women (Judges 14:3).
The mother who stood before Solomon felt great anguish inside when she thought her son might die (I Kings 3:26).
Eunice the mother of Timothy was married to a Greek man (Acts 16:1) but she made sure her son knew the Hebrew Scriptures (II Tim. 3:15).

“The bravest battle that ever was fought!
Shall I tell you where and when?
On the maps of the world you will find it not;
‘Twas fought by the mothers of men.
Nay not with the cannon of battle-shot,
With a sword or noble pen;
Nay, not with eloquent words or thought
From mouth of wonderful men!
But deep in a walled-up woman’s heart –
Of a woman that would not yield,
But bravely, silently bore her part –
Lo, there is the battlefield!
No marshalling troops, no bivouac song,
No banner to gleam and wave;
But oh! those battles, they last so long –
From babyhood to the grave.
Yet, faithful still as a bridge of stars,
She fights in her walled-up town –
Fights on and on in her endless wars,
Then silent, unseen, goes down.
Oh, ye with banners and battle-shot,
And soldiers to shout and praise!
I tell you the kingliest victories fought
Were fought in those silent ways.
O spotless woman in a world of shame,
With splendid and silent scorn,
Go back to God as white as you came –
The Kingliest warrior born!”
Joaquin Miller (1839-1913)

Mothers are strong. They have to be. How else could they suffer the pain of having children, bear the hurt of not having children, experience the sorrow of having children only to lose them, endure the fears of children rebelling, put up with a drunken husband, work extra jobs because her husband left her for another woman, stay up late at night to take care of a sick child and her own aged parents, and all the while wash clothes, cook meals, and clean the house? That is true toughness. It is not just her tough love. It is her love that makes her tough.

“Honor thy father and thy mother” (Exod. 20:12) and “despise not thy mother when she is old” (Prov. 23:22).

-Kerry Duke