It cuts like a dagger—the pain of rejection piercing deep from someone we love and serve. We feel it when our child ignores us, too preoccupied to notice our presence. We sense it when someone we serve makes a sharp turn in the other direction, intentionally avoiding our company. We notice it when a friend, once warm and safe, turns strangely cold.
Last week we welcomed spring break with unexpectedly warm weather and uninterrupted time as a family. My husband, who normally works many early mornings and late nights, had the whole week off. Our toddler son soaked up every minute.
At first I relished the break. A few moments to myself in the mornings. Extra help at nap time. Focused work time. But something quickly shifted.
“Daddy do it,” became the phrase of the week. Protests ensued if I tried to take off shoes, change a diaper, or get our son up from the dinner table. Still unsure of how to navigate the emotions that come with a change to his routine, every frustration was directed toward me.
At first I tried to brush it off, but as the week went on, it started to sting. I distinctly remember standing in the bathroom, looking down at my son mid temper tantrum, wondering how he could treat me that way after all I do for him. And then it hit me.
How many times do I treat God the same? Too often I throw an internal tantrum, frustrated about my changing circumstances. Too often my heart grows cold and angry when life is hard. Far too often I complain more than I give thanks.
The scene that I recall from last week is particularly sobering as I look toward the cross. God sacrificed his son—his perfect son—in our place. And now, as Christ followers, we are considered heirs with the one who saved us (Romans 8:29).
When I think about the magnitude of such a gift, I’m humbled by my ungratefulness. I should never balk at unanswered prayer. I should never complain about hard days. I should remember to give thanks.
But even in the midst of our tantrums and complaints, God still reaches down. He befriended us when we were sinners. And he daily shows us grace.
Such love—the kind that reaches down when we’re thrashing on the floor and gently redirects us toward a better way to live—changes us. It gives us hope amidst brokenness. It sets us free from the selfishness that weighs us down. It makes us grateful.
So as we look toward the cross this Easter, may we be reminded of the love it shows us. The Father gave up his son so that we could call upon him as “Abba.” May his love sink in deeply, changing us, so that we offer it freely to others again and again.