Daily Devotions

A Child's Tough Memory

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Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward. (Psalm 127:3)

Childhood memories can be sad. They talk about “the good old days,” but when I was a kid, emotional and even physical abuse was the parents’ business. I knew kids who lived behind us who came to school with bruises regularly. I am unaware of teachers or any other adults “noticing.” If they did, and said anything to authorities, it certainly didn’t make a difference. But sadly, that abuse isn’t the one that still haunts me.

Over 46 years ago – and I still remember the boy’s name and face like it was yesterday – Jim and his family lived across the street and three houses down on the left. The boy was my age, but he was small for his age. Jim was an extremely homely boy. Teachers and kids treated him like he was “slow.” Some of us tried to be nice to him, but he was so disturbed and distrustful; he would verbally and even physically attack people who tried to be nice to him. At eleven years old, we just didn’t know how to respond.

What haunts me wasn’t the way teachers and kids treated him, but the way his parents responded to Jim. They ignored him. His response was to cry, scream, and even growl. The more he did it, they more they ignored him. Jim had a little brother, who was as cute as a button. Jim’s parents doted on the younger boy. To the side of their place, Jim’s father got permission to build a children’s playground using large tractor wheels. The paper came and did a story. Mom, Dad, and little brother sat on the wheels and took a beautiful “family” picture together. I saw Jim looking out the picture window, alone, crying.

What does it mean to be made in the image of God? Now that I am a grandpa, I think back on child abuse with such agony. Sadly, child abuse still happens, but at least the rest of society doesn’t turn a blind eye as easily today. Adults often mistakenly believe the children in their care are theirs to do with as they like. No, every child is God’s child. We “parents” are the guardians of God’s children. Every one of God’s children deserves to grow, learn, and live without fear. Let that be our prayer today.

More Than An Earner

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But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

In reading through interesting articles, I came across one that caught my eye. It was written by Jean Hannah Edelstein. Edelstein laments her present life situation by writing an article entitled, “The Dream Job Is Dead.” Part of having a dream job is knowing it cannot be taken away. “The loss of a job or a career path that you believed was right for you, the evaporation of this kind of dream, may seem like a small sadness in contrast with the deep grief that so many people have suffered during the pandemic. But it’s still grief in its own right.” 

Overcoming grief requires we find a way to move forward, by accepting our pain and affirming our reason for being. Grief may cause our reason for being to change, or transform, but our lives should retain meaning if we are to live a meaningful life. By the end of Edelstein’s thought process, she comes to her own realization. She asks herself, and then each one of us, “Does your job need to be a major source of emotional satisfaction, or could you focus on finding something that helps you achieve other things in your life that make you happy-…” But if not work or career, where is meaning found?

Edelstein’s answer, “I’ve learned to look elsewhere for that.” I call each of us to think about what is important to us. Fulfillment can come in many forms. Family, deep friendships, knowledge, justice, etc., are all examples of callings that do not require a career to fulfill. Nurturing our relationship with God remains the greatest calling we can and should have in our lives.

I was watching the news a week or two ago, and a psychologist spoke of the increased number of suicides because of the job losses by so many people. Most of us have been raised to be good providers. If we cannot provide, our self-worth takes a terrible hit. Thankfully, God gives us more than simply earning as a means of providing self-worth or value. You and I are valued as children of God. We cannot earn it, but we can accept it, by the grace of God. In these difficult times, it is important to embrace the truth of your worth; but also to share this Divine message, so others can feel worthy in the midst of these challenging times.

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