God responds lovingly to us in every situation
4 MINUTE READ
Our family will soon welcome our second child and while we are excited about this, we also wonder how our love will expand to embrace both children equally and individually. Parents who have gone before, tell us that hearts grow and it is not a matter of sharing love, but that we become able to hold and pour out more than we imagine.
As the day of baby’s arrival draws closer, I find myself more aware of sibling relationships and how parents can influence these. Others have shared their struggles, victories and strategies for managing differences in their children’s giftings and personalities. Will there be comparison, jealousy and sibling rivalry? Will it be necessary to parent one child differently from the other?
Seeing the story of the prodigal son through the lens of parenthood highlights to me the fairness, abundance and personal qualities of God’s fatherly love.
“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God…” (John 3:1)
What (we think) we deserve
A father with two sons. Each learns the quality of their father’s love in different ways. The younger son is prodigal but returns home to an extravagantly welcoming and forgiving love. The elder son is hard working and loyal. He discovers that the father’s love is much more than an inheritance or wage. To both these sons, the father’s love is equal, yet personally delivered.
Both sons had ideas of what they were entitled to. The younger son initially demanded his inheritance to spend as he pleased. When he later found himself destitute, he returned to his father’s home saying he was unworthy to be called or treated as a son.
“A father with two sons. Each learns the quality of their father’s love in different ways.”
The older son stayed in his father’s home, working obediently and persistently. When he saw his father’s welcome for his brother’s return, he became angry. It seemed unfair to him that his irresponsible brother should have such a grand celebration, when, for all his work, he had not even received a young goat with which he could celebrate.
Our preconceptions can influence our response to God. We might get angry when He seems to allow injustices, feel ashamed when we are convicted of sin, or feel entitled to greater blessings in our lives.
In one of his sermons, Tim Keller discusses the idea of “achieved identity” compared to “received identity”. How do we see ourselves and our relationship with our Father God? Do we place more value on our actions and achievements influencing how God sees and treats us, or are we able to receive the identity He has freely given us through His loving grace?
The Father’s answer
Two sons with different burdens laid upon their hearts. The younger one, ashamed to return home destitute; the older one, in anger, refusing to come in and join the celebration. The father does not wait for his sons to sort out their feelings and reconcile, but goes out to meet them where they are. God is not distant. He responds intentionally and lovingly to us in every situation.
“The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.” (Luke 15:12)
God lets us learn and gives us the freedom to make choices. We might wonder why God did not intervene at certain times in our lives, only to see later the testimony that was built upon that initial painful experience.
“So he (the younger son) got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.” (Luke 15:20)
God sees the intent of our hearts and rejoices as we turn towards him. We only have to look, and we will see Him running towards us with open arms, ready to cover our shame with the glorious riches of His purpose, His identity and His sense of worth. He forgives fully, loves lavishly and celebrates whole-heartedly when the lost are found.
“‘My son,’the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours.’” (Luke 15:31)
When we are angry, jealous, or disappointed, God reminds us of His faithfulness and provision. In His presence, we have everything we need. Through the Holy Spirit, we have access to God’s wisdom, direction, peace and so much more.
So to those who have wandered, lost, and despaired;
Come home to the Father’s comforting arms.
To those feeling unworthy, rejected and dirty;
Come home, and let the Father clothe you anew.
To those who are angry and don’t understand;
Come inside and see what the Father reveals.
To those who are fatherless, or feeling unloved;
Know your Heavenly Father loves you fully and unconditionally.
There is room for everyone in the Father’s house.
“My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?” (John 14:2)
Dr Kristen Dang Dr Kristen Dang is a family doctor who loves music, writing and anything artsy. She also manages a small business (Lily of the Valleys – K), through which she aims to share her love for Jesus through the creative arts. Kristen and her family are looking forward to welcoming their second child later in the year.