With tears streaming down my mascara-stained face, I sat at the kitchen table and cried. Spilling from my heart, a river of hurt ran down my discouraged cheeks. As I sat in the presence of my husband and my half-eaten dinner, I felt (for the very first time) the disappointing pain that comes from raising children.
Oh, I’ve cried over these little souls before…oh, I’ve cried.
I’ve cried the happy-relieved tears when my eyes met theirs and they took their first breaths.
I’ve cried the tired-exhausted tears when they refused their beds and cried through the night.
I’ve cried the excited-proud tears when they rolled over and took their first bites.
I’ve even cried the annoyed-overwhelmed tears when they are hard to please and eager to whine.
But I’ve never cried the type of tears I cried two nights ago. No, I’ve never cried those.
And as I sat at the table, mentally recounting the many ways I have lovingly cared for my son, I felt the heaviness and weight of my son’s disobedient, hurtful choices.
I was angry. I was hurt. I was completely let down.
“I have done so much for him and yet this is how he repays my love!?!?”
And as the words spilled from my mouth, the Lord graciously and lovingly reminded me of not only the words I’ve been studying in Ezekiel 16, but also the immense hurt that He, too, has felt from His children.
Jessica, I know you have taken care of this boy since the day of his conception…
You took multi-vitamins for him; you attended a boatload of doctor appointments for him; you had emergency surgery for him; you were on bed rest for over four months for him; and you labored in pain for him.
On the day you (Israel) were born…No one cared for you. No one did one thing to care for you tenderly in these ways. You were thrown out into a vacant lot and left there, dirty and unwashed—a newborn nobody wanted. And then I came by. I saw you all miserable and bloody. Yes, I said to you, lying there helpless and filthy, ‘Live! Grow up like a plant in the field!’ v. 4-7 (MSG paraphrased)
Jessica, I know how you have cared for, loved, and raised this boy…
You feed him; you clothe him; you play with him; you teach him; you snuggle him; and you go the extra mile to please him.
I took care of you (Israel), dressed you and protected you. I promised you my love and entered the covenant of marriage with you. I, God, the Master, gave my word. You became mine. I adorned you with jewelry: I placed bracelets on your wrists, fitted you out with a necklace, emerald rings, sapphire earrings, and a diamond tiara. You were provided with everything precious and beautiful. v. 8-14 (MSG paraphrased)
Jessica, I know how you have been hurt by this boy…
He wouldn’t smile for the family pictures; he threw a selfish fit; he refused to give back to you; he disregarded your desires; and he willfully put his wants above yours.
And then you (Israel) took all that fine jewelry I gave you, my gold and my silver, and made idols of them. You set out the wonderful foods I provided—the fresh breads and fruits, with fine herbs and spices, which were my gifts to you—and you served them as delicacies to your idols. You took your sons and your daughters, that I gave you, and you killed them, sacrificing them to idols. v. 12-21 (MSG paraphrased)
Jessica, I know how he disregarded and forgot about all the ways you have loved him…
He wasn’t remembering the good things you have given him; he wasn’t thinking about the times you have sacrificed for him; he wasn’t choosing to recall the good you have done for him; and he wasn’t reflecting on the countless ways you have blessed him.
And not once during these years of outrageous idol worship did you remember your infancy, when you were naked and exposed, a blood-smeared newborn. v. 22 (MSG paraphrased)
Jessica, I also know that even though he hurt you, you still love him…
You won’t walk away from him; you won’t give up on him; you won’t be angry forever; and you won’t deny him your love.
You who have treated my oath with contempt and broken my covenant. All the same, I’ll remember the covenant I made with you when you were young. I’ll firmly establish my covenant with you and you’ll know that I am God. I will make atonement for you, make everything right after all you’ve done, and it will leave you speechless.v. 59-63 (MSG paraphrased)
And just like those Israelites in Ezekiel 16…
You, too, have disregarded my good gifts.
You, too, have put yourself first.
You, too, have been unfaithful to me.
You, too, have worshiped other things.
You, too, have forgotten all that I have done for you.
You, too, have broken our covenant.
And I, the perfect Father, have not only forgiven you, but I have also made a way for restoration.
Yes, Jessica…I completely and perfectly understand your hurt.
But unlike you, Jessica…my love NEVER, EVER wavers for you, and my love is NEVER, EVER contingent on what you do or do not do.
And on this side of Heaven, THAT is something you will NEVER, EVER fully understand.