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God and a Father’s Heart

sick child

Recently someone said to me, “Do you know when your child is really sick or hurting and how badly you wish you could do something? If only it could be you instead; you would gladly carry the burden. But you can’t. That’s how I felt.” This offhand comment struck me. Parents can hardly bear to see their children suffer. Can we picture God with similar emotions?

Jesus voices these kinds of feelings when he cried out, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing” (Luke 13:34).

And these scriptures speak to God’s tenderness as well:

The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made. Psalms 145:8-9

A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. (Isaiah 42:2-4).

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. (Psalm 91:1, 4)

When it comes to carrying our children’s pain, we are helpless. But Jesus let himself be nailed to a cross for that very reason—to carry our sin burden, with all the associated pain. We tend to minimize God’s emotions because, after all, he’s God. But why do we have emotions? Is it not because we are created in his image?

When I consider human analogies, it helps me see glimpses of God’s heart and makes me love him all the more. Maybe you, too?

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).