El Shaddai–Almighty Nurturer

We talked last week about Almighty God, a translation of the Hebrew phrase El Shaddai. In addition to unlimited power, this phrase implies strength and friendship. What really struck me as I studied this name some more, is that some scholars believe that Shaddai comes from the Hebrew root word Shad, which means “breast.” That brings me a picture of nurture, of a mother holding her child close to feed him, a child who is totally dependent on her for sustenance.

I was blessed as a mother to be able to nurse my children. As I gazed at their fuzzy heads and held them close, my love flowed from me into them as fully as did my milk .

Okay, honesty compels me to admit times of impatience, of wishing I could give this chore to someone else just this once, of times of missing out on what was happening all around me as I gave myself totally to this child. But there were other times when, as I nursed my child, I felt glimmers of the depths of God’s love for me–so wide, so deep, so long, so unending. I am an imperfect human parent nurturer–He is Almighty Nurturer–El Shaddai.

Can a mother forget her nursing child?
    Can she feel no love for the child she has borne?
But even if that were possible,
    I [God] would not forget you!
Isaiah 49:15, NLT

What about when that child is weaned from mother’s milk and has moved on to eating food. A toddler, the terrible twos, the timid threes, and challenging fours? How about elementary school years and junior high with the delights of puberty and self-immersion? Then come our children’s high school years, when parents are at their dumbest and most unfair stages. And young adulthood as our children choose whether or not to believe as their parents believed, but take or reject what they have been taught. And life continues. During all those stages, I am an imperfect human parent nurturer–He is Almighty Nurturer–El Shaddai.

Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.’
Matthew 19:14.. NIVUK

I must also remember, than I am God’s child. He is the head of the family: both patriarch and matriarch.

I led [you] with cords of human kindness,
    with ties of love.
To [you] I [am] like one who lifts
    a little child to the cheek,
    and I [bend]t down to feed [you].
Hosea 11:4, NIVUK

So, what is my childlike role to be to my Almighty Nurturer–El Shaddai?

Lord, my heart is not proud;
    my eyes are not haughty.
I don’t concern myself with matters too great
    or too awesome for me to grasp.
Instead, I have calmed and quieted myself,
    like a weaned child who no longer cries for its mother’s milk.
    Yes, like a weaned child is my soul within me.
Psalm 131:1-2. NLT

A baby is picked up to be fed and nourished at its mother’s breast. A weaned child comes to her mother or for comfort. A young child comes to his father for protection and strength. We never grow beyond the stage of dependency on the nurture given to us by El Shaddai. Not as preteens, teens, young adults, middle-age, and elderly. We are still invited to snuggle in His arms as His children.

 Let them come to me for refuge;
    let them make peace with me,
    yes, let them make peace with me.’
Isaiah 27:5, NIVUK

As we grow and mature as Christians, we dive deeply into God’s love and mercy,
and live our lives in total dependency on our Almighty God who Nurtures us.

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