His hands were sticky and peanut butter smeared his cheeks. Strawberry jam coated the corners of his mouth. As I had done a thousand times before, I washed chubby hands and a bright-eyed little face.
“Mama, why you wash me hands and me face?”
“Well buddy, I want to take good care of you.”
“Why you take good care?”
“Because God takes good care of us.”
“Why God take good care?”
“Because He loves us.”
A short exchange, but my words penetrated my own heart. God takes good care of us.
It’s who He is: a God whose care is not only lavish but precise. Jesus fed thousands from a little bit of lunch, but He also embraced individuals who longed to be touched. He healed sickness, but waited to come until Lazarus was dead so He could display deeper, more extravagant care (John 11). He comforted some and admonished others.
Jesus was not a far away philanthropist, tossing mass-produced, look-alike blessings from the sky. He taught with words His audience could understand, perfectly pinpointing the need of each heart.
His care in our lives is also precise. Shifting scenes come into focus, evidence of His precision: Specific Scripture passages spring to mind as I pray for comfort. A financial need is met at just the right time. A spectacular sunset radiates across the sky. A surgeon skillfully removes a tumor. A woman praises God at her husband’s funeral. A baby sleeps through the night. And on other nights the weary mama has grace to rise yet again, praising God for quiet, stillness, and soft baby skin nestled against hers.
All are gifts of precise, tangible grace, flowing abundantly for the day when they’re needed.
How marvelous it is that God never has to prioritize whose need is bigger or more important? He has the power and compassion to meet billions, trillions, quadrillions—an infinite number of needs at once.
My children are close in age, so I’m constantly evaluating whose need is more urgent—one calls for help in the bathroom, the toddler has bumped her head, and the distraught baby needs to eat. Sometimes I’m not exactly sure of the best response. I’m talking about total meltdowns when a two-year-old’s dinosaur sheets are in the washing machine or how to handle it when shouts of “It’s mine!” “No it’s mine! I had it first!” reverberate down the hall. It’s exhausting. And exasperating at times.
Praise God, He’s never exhausted or exasperated by the constant care his children need! He already met mankind’s biggest need, through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. So rest assured, your needs are not too great. Or too small.
God is also a Father characterized by perfect compassion toward his children. “For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust” (Psalm 103:14 esv). He understands our weaknesses and gets down low to meet us there (Isa. 57:15). He is a shepherd who tends his flock with gentleness—especially the young (Isa. 40:11).
His care is precise, powerful, and perfectly compassionate—all because He loves us. Because Jesus took care of His own even to the cross, we know kindness when we deserve wrath, grace when we deserve judgment, and gentleness when we deserve rebuke. As a result, our care can reflect his care. We take good care of our own.
By this we know love, that he lay down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. (I John 3:16 esv)
Caring for the Needy
By sacrificially meeting our children’s needs, we get to show a fraction of God’s lavish love. God doesn’t leave His own in their filth, so even the physical act of cleaning our children is a kind of mercy. Of course, small children need a parent to do these things because they can’t do them on their own. How quickly they would succumb to their own excrement. How pervasive is our filthiness if not for Christ!
Sadly, not all children are well cared for by their parents. In a broken world, even the natural desire to provide and care for our most vulnerable is marred. Most folks in our culture are rightly appalled by horrific stories of abuse, but many still promote a “children are jerks” culture.
A medical professional sat across from me talking about his young son, “I love him, but sometimes he’s a total *expletive*.”
I made my next appointment with another doctor. Children are image bearers and loved by God. They are our little neighbors too.
May our parenting flow from a life overflowing with the fruit of the gospel—that is “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Gal. 5:22–23). We can be counter-cultural by not berating, shouting at, shaming, or demeaning our children.
Furthermore, remembering God’s care produces so much joy in the mundane. Instead of merely washing hands and faces for the seemingly millionth time, we get to touch a hand loved by God and cleanse little faces made in God’s image. What an attitude changer on a hard day!
Do we begrudge them their neediness, become frustrated because they inconvenience us and demolish our “plans,” or do we realize the potential to show them the heart of Jesus?
We cannot meet their spiritual needs, but by tenderly, generously, compassionately, and kindly meeting their physical needs we reflect the One who can meet all their needs.
Unseen moments, then, become acts of worship and reflect the heart of God.
A parent’s days are filled with unseen moments, but they’re holy moments, nonetheless. Holding a hand in a parking lot, rocking a sick baby in the night, giving a toddler clean clothes after a potty accident, changing a blowout diaper, loading a dishwasher—all reveal something about God to the people around us. Whether we like it or not, the way we parent contributes to our children’s perceptions of themselves and of God. Unseen moments, then, become acts of worship and reflect the heart of God.
Is He a God who is rough and gruff? Is He fickle, some days speaking calmly and others flying off the handle? Does He grudgingly get up to answer our cries?
Sometimes I’m fickle, selfish, and moody, but “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Heb. 13:8). Amen.
Commenting on Romans 2:4, Jared C. Wilson writes, “God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance. Not his law, not his berating, not his exasperation or his cajoling. His kindness.”1
I wish I could say I’ve never been guilty of berating, cajoling, or exasperation. But because the Holy Spirit indwells believers and the gospel empowers us, we can respond to our children with kindness and gentleness. We can respond rather than react.
But what about when we sin against them? What about when we don’t meet needs tenderly or do give in to anger boiling inside?
Well, God’s kindness leads us to repentance also. He is notoriously patient and long-suffering, and his compassions fail not. Over and over his mercies are new (Lam. 3:22–23). He is near the contrite and lowly because Jesus already paid the penalty for selfishness, angry outbursts, frustration, desire for convenience, and all the other parenting temptations that come our way.
When we sin we are encouraged to bring our mess to Jesus because he will know just how to receive us. He doesn’t handle us roughly. He doesn’t scowl and scold. He doesn’t lash out, the way many of our parents did. And all this restraint on his part is not because he has a diluted view of our sinfulness. . . . His restraint simply flows from his tender heart for his people . . . rather than dispensing grace to us from on high, he gets down with us, he puts his arm around us, he deals with us in the way that is just what we need. He deals gently with us. —Dane Ortlund, in Gentle and Lowly2
On our best days and on our worst, He is our intercessor and advocate who constantly brings us before the throne, His own righteousness covering us (1 John 2:1–3, Heb. 4:14–16). He silences the accuser, and we recall who we are—called, capable, new creations, redeemed.
He has cleansed us from our own filth. More than that, He moves toward us and embraces us, and is committed to the work He began. He will sanctify his own (Phil. 1:6). Therefore, we walk forward without shame.
So take heart friends, He takes good care of us.
1 Jared C. Wilson, The Imperfect Disciple: Grace for People Who Can’t Get Their Act Together (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2017).
2 Dane C. Ortlund, Gentle and Lowly: The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2021).
This post was previously published at Revive Our Hearts