In Matthew 18, the disciples asked Jesus who would be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. To answer them, He called a child to come near, and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 18:3–4).
We would be wise to take His words at face value and start looking for the lessons He wants us to learn from loving children. I can say with confidence that I have learned more about God from mothering and watching my kids than in almost any other classroom of life. One of the most important lessons I have learned from investing in my kids is that God is infinitely able to care for all of our needs.
Inadequate to Meet the Needs
As a homeschooling mom of six, at any given moment of my day there are people waiting in line for my attention. One day, when my youngest was still tiny, was particularly difficult. I was changing the baby’s diaper and in the short time that took (and for a mom in her twelfth straight year of changing diapers, it doesn’t take long at all!), two other kids came in and asked me if I could do something for them. Right then. Naked baby, dirty diaper on the bed—they didn't care. They just wanted their needs met immediately.
Later, I was on the phone and during a two-minute phone call, I had three children standing in a semicircle around me—one holding a math test to be graded, one holding a shoe to be untied, and one who I think was just attracted by the crowd and wanted to watch the show. Meanwhile, the baby with bronchitis sat on the floor at my feet and screamed.
These moments are pretty much daily occurrences around my house. Even if I somehow miraculously work my way to the end of the line and the people are all momentarily satisfied, that’s when I notice the line of “things” waiting for my attention. You know the drill—laundry, dishes, crumbs, school papers to check, meals to cook, groceries to buy, on and on it goes. And of course, I always handle these moments with the utmost grace and patience, right? Sadly, no.
Unfortunately, my reflex response goes something like this: First interruption gets a fairly sweet, “Okay, hang on, and I’ll get it as soon as I finish this.” Second interruption gets a tense, “Okay, but you’re going to have to wait a few minutes.” Third interruption gets a very stressed sounding, “Can you see that I am doing something right now!? You have to wait!” And if anything or anyone else is brave (foolish) enough to interrupt a fourth time, they may as well just duck and cover. That particular day, things got so bad I called for reinforcements and then took myself to timeout for an hour.
Grace in an Omnipotent God
But there was grace. There was a moment, in the midst of all the chaos that is just a regular day at my house, when it dawned on me: I am not alone. God knows what it is to have not just six or seven other people needing His help all at the same time, but billions. And because He is infinite and omnipotent, He never has to tell them to wait a minute.
When I come to Him with my little first-world, temporary moments of mama-crisis, He never says, “You’ll have to wait until this civil war is resolved in Africa, then I have to go help the persecuted Christians in China, then I still need to get the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade, then I might have time for you sometime next year.”
No. He is there, arms open wide, knowing my need better than I know it myself. Even though my sorrows are minuscule when compared with the agonies of suffering faced by millions around the globe, He still catches all my tears in a bottle.
You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book? (Ps. 56:8)
Even though my voice crying out to Him, begging for the grace to face the line of needs with patience, is just one tiny voice in a sea of billions, He hears it clearly and listens with compassion.
And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him (1 John 5:14–15).
Unlike me, and unlike everyone else out there who knows exactly what it is to look past the task at hand and see a line of more needs so long the end is not even in sight, God never has to sigh and say, “Take a number.” He is big enough to address every need as soon as it is needed, powerful enough to address every need completely and perfectly, and loving enough to address every need with patience and compassion.
He invites us to stop foolishly clinging to our needs, refusing to ask for help in the pride that insists, “I can do it myself!” and instead, throw our needs on Him in the humility that says, “I need help!” Why? Because He cares for us and is ready to be the help we desperately need.
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you (1 Peter 5:6–7).
Rest in Christ
So take heart as you spend yourself dry loving children. You might not be able to meet all the needs facing you every day, but He is able to meet all your needs. You might be pulling your hair out because your “take-a-number” system is already on Number 83, and it’s not even noon, but He is calmly there ready to dispense grace and patience and kindness as you work your way down the line. So do the next thing, and rest in His loving arms as you do it.
Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen (Jude 24–25).