Dec 152013 7 Responses

What Makes a Little Boy Cry

For the past 15 years, our church has partnered with Prison Fellowship’s Angel Tree program.

Every Christmas, prisoners request that churches get their children gifts to be given in the name of the prisoner. If the caregiver agrees, our church members purchase gifts for each child, invite them to a dinner, and then give the gifts to the children.

Several years ago, I was seated at a table with three children. One child was a boy on the cusp of teenagehood. He was old enough to carry on a good conversation but young enough to still care about my attention. From the moment he sat down at the table we hit it off.

Throughout the dinner, and as he opened presents, we were conversing. As he opened his last present, he looked at me and said, “Thank you.” I quickly said, “You don’t have to thank me, these are from your Dad.”

As soon as I mentioned his Dad, his face changed and he grew quiet. I tried to reengage him in conversation, but he would have none of it. He was silent.

The evening wrapped up and as we began to clean up, my heart broke for the boy. He wouldn’t even look me in the eye. I didn’t know what to do, so as his caregivers were taking things to the car, I just sat beside him and said nothing.

Finally he looked up at me with tears in his eyes and said, “Were these presents really from my Dad?”

I said, “Yep. Now he couldn’t buy them himself, but he wanted to make sure you had presents so he wrote us a letter, told us what you wanted, and asked if we could buy them for you. These are from him.”

With those words, the boy broke.

The Question We All Ask

There is a question at the heart of every child (and adult)—“Am I loveable?”

From the moment they are born, they deserve to know they are desired, cared for, and worthy of love.

Yet far too many children experience events which cause them to question whether or not they are loveable. They wrongly interpret situations in their lives as statements against their worthiness.

  • A father struggles with addiction, ending up in jail and a son doubts his value.
  • A mom and dad can’t make marriage work and a daughter questions her worthiness.
  • A parent overemphasizes grades or sports and a child believes their academic, or athletic, failure is a sign they should not be loved.

Because no parent is perfect and no life situation is pristine, nearly every human being carries with them a doubt of whether or not they are loveable. The only exception would be those who we would deem highly unhealthy—the narcissist. Except for these few outliers, everyone else wrestles with this question.

The world longs to know if it is loved.

The Answer Christmas Gives

God coming to earth in human form, living a perfect life, and freely sacrificing himself to pay the penalty for the sins of others, forever defines the value of the human soul. Jesus makes us loveable.

The reason every human being doubts their value is because sin stripped our worth. The feeling that we are unlovable is an echo of a former truth. Without God’s actions through Jesus, humanity would not be loveable. We would be worthless. We would be without value.

Yet Jesus made us valuable. Not only is every human being created in the image of God, but we also are the objects for which Jesus gave his life. The price He paid for us has defined our value.

Every Christmas season we sing this story, “Long lay the world in sin and error pinning, ’till he appeared and the soul felt its worth.

But sadly, too many souls still do not feel their worth.

They search for it in a thousand different places, but none of those places provide the identity for which we seek. Our value can ultimately only be found in the place it is given—in Jesus.

This is the message of Christmas.

This should be the message of everyone who embraces the Christmas story.

Whether we whisper it to kids whose parents are in prison, sing it to our own children as we put them to bed, remind ourselves of the truth as doubts arise, or communicate in small acts of kindness to those who have less resources than us, we are the great proclaimers of value and worth to a world who desperately longs for meaning.

Isn’t this what draws us to Jesus? Wasn’t this one of his great gifts to the world? The outcast, the overlooked, the unappreciated, the downcast and downtrodden, found value in the eyes of Jesus.

When everyone else overlooked them, Jesus saw them.
When everyone else abused them, Jesus cared for them.
When everyone else ignored them, Jesus honored them.

As he has done for us, we should now do for others. We should recognize, vocalize, and honor the value in the lives of every person around us. But we can only do so, as we receive our value from Jesus.

No matter what the circumstances of someone’s life, they are loveable. Despite the fear that we are not worthy, despite the feelings that we do not deserve love, despite the haunting voice which tells us we have no worth, God tells a different story. He tells the truth.

So should we.

Every day, you and I come in contact with people who desperately need to know the answer to the question “Am I loveable.” The Christmas story allows us to answer that question with ease.

“Yes, you are loveable because Jesus has come to this planet for you.”


7 Responses to What Makes a Little Boy Cry
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