What If God Is Tenderhearted?
Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may have her young—a place near your altar,LORD Almighty, my King and my God.(Psalm 84:3)
With a few lines, the psalmist portrays a scene of great tenderness. A small bird—a tiny, fleeting life, vulnerable and inconsequential in a vast, dangerous world—finds security and a home in the presence of limitless power. Instinctively she understands: the God who made the white-hot suns and shining galaxies made her too, and he cares for her with a loving heart and a gentle hand.
God’s terrible wrath is reserved for the terrible. For the humble and the broken, he wraps his invincible strength in velvet. Clothed as a carpenter’s son, the Monarch of creation befriends fishermen and tax collectors. Aslan the Lion, slayer of the White Witch, sheaths his claws and frolics with the children.2 It’s one of the great messages of Scripture: The Lord of heaven’s armies is a tenderhearted King.
"As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him;for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.(Psalm 103:13–14)
He will feed his flock like a shepherd. He will carry the lambs in his arms, holding them close to his heart. He will gently lead the mother sheep with their young. (Isaiah 40:11 NLT)
When [Jesus] saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. (Matthew 9:36)
[God’s intent is] that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:7)
Most of us long to be dealt with graciously. Maybe we’ve toughened our hearts like leather in response to a harsh and disappointing life. But deep down, we still long for kindness. For a gentle hand and a caring touch. For a voice that says, “I see you, and it’s okay.
”Imagine being treated that way consistently. To be tenderly held and truly loved—really and deeply and powerfully and patiently loved until the toxic effects of life, the griefs, disappointments, fears, failure, anger, and shame, gradually get loved away, and the love soaks through at last and keeps on coming and doesn’t stop—what would that be like?
That’s God’s heart toward you. A strong, tender heart. Imagine discovering him not as a never-can-please critic or a merciless taskmaster but as a wise mentor and a kind, empowering Creator. One who put you in this world not so he could catch you at your worst but so he could patiently and graciously grow you into someone wonderful in Christ.
Wonderful is who he created you to be—and it’s who God is.If you will pursue him, you’ll find he has been pursuing you all along. And his gentleness will make you great.
33 Psalm 18:35 ESV.
1 Scripture quotes, unless otherwise noted, are from the New International Version (NIV).2 See The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, book 2 in The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis (New York: HarperCollins). Aslan is the Christ figure in all seven Narnia books. If you’ve never read this beloved fantasy series, put it on your list and expect to be delighted. It’s for both the young and the young at heart.