hand sand losing

As a parent there is a special privilege in watching your children learn and develop. We see them try new things and succeed; other times they fail. Sometimes there are those tense moments when you are standing there watching them and rooting for them to get something done, and then you notice that you have been unconsciously going through the motions with your own hands! We get so wrapped into their experiences even as we root them on with loving encouragement.

And what happens when they don’t get it done? What do we do when the 3 year-old cannot get the puzzle completed or ride his bike like his older siblings or pick up the grocery bag? We look them in the eye and tell them, “Good job. You’ll get this. Let me help you.” This level of understanding, affirmation, and assistance seems to go a long way to encourage our children to “keep trying” and not be discouraged.

When I was reading in the 103rd Psalm yesterday I was struck by the 13-14th verses:

“As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.” (Psalm 103:13-14)

How about that? In the context of forgiving our sin and showing us with grace, we are reminded that God is a Father who is understanding and compassionate towards his children.

This was particularly encouraging to me as it struck me that I often forget who I am. I tend to have a much higher, a more inflated opinion of myself than reality. I think I deserve to be treated better, think I’ve acted better, and believe that I will do better. I’m the 4 year-old kid who thinks he can pick up the 50 lb. air conditioner out of the trunk of the car. But God is under no such illusion. He knows my frame. He knows how I was formed. He remembers that I am but dust. He knows this because he is my Creator! He has infinite knowledge of me and my weaknesses.

I am sure you can see how this so richly blesses our souls. God is a God who knows us (and all of our shortcomings) intimately, but yet still loves us infinitely. There is full understanding and yet complete acceptance. These verses remind us that God’s compassion, care, love, and ultimately forgiveness —does not depend on our strength or ability. Just like a parent does not love their child because they can ride the bike, do the puzzle, or knock out some chores, so too God loves his children.

This reminds me again of the gospel. It was God’s forsaking of his own Son that made it at all possible for any Fatherly care for me (Mt. 27.46; Gal. 4:4-6). This compassionate, tender, knowledgeable, love would not be able to be experienced by any of us had Jesus not endured the intense, unrelenting, unmitigated, wrath of God that was due to us.

What encouragement indeed. It brings us back to the first verses of the Psalm:

“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits,” (Psalm 103:1-2)

Father, thank you for loving me. I am humbled by this passage as I consider that you love such a weak person who seems at times to excel only at pride. Yet you are patient, compassionate, and gracious. Impress upon me the depths of your compassion. Make me to know your Fatherly care for me so that I can respond to you with the reflex of praise like I read of the Psalmist. Bless the Lord, O my soul, may I never forget your benefits. Amen.