I once heard someone say that he didn’t think he was ever capable of murder until he had children and learned otherwise. At first, I misunderstood this person’s concept, thinking that he was referring to the idea that children can really drive a person insane to the point of wanting to remove them from this earth. God knows every parent has felt that way at one time or several. However, what that person was actually expressing was that he never thought himself able to actually kill someone until he felt the protective nature of being a parent. I then understood and now agree: if anyone ever did anything to my child, I would most likely murder them in cold blood.
Now, I write that previous sentence with a slight bit of humor and a tongue-in-cheek tone, but there is a great amount of truth to it in the sense that being the parent and protector of someone, you really feel that there is no end to the amount of protection you would provide. When you become a parent, you don’t really realize the protective nature that is suddenly invoked within you until someone crosses your child’s path. I’ve heard hypothetical stories in debates about the death penalty, and the argument of “well, if someone did something to your child…,” and I have always considered the high road of what was allowable morally, and how God’s law doesn’t permit murder, etc. However, everything changes when you become a parent, because your love for them is no longer driven and garnered by reason and logic but instead by pure animal nature. Someone does something to them, mama (or papa) bear instincts kick in, and that person better watch out.
I especially felt it kick in once when my son came home one day with a prize that he had earned in class for having repeatedly excellent behavior. He went into the prize box and took an item of his choosing as a reward, and when he returned to his desk with it, he was met with a number of jealous glances from his classmates. Later that day, he confessed to my wife and I that one of his male classmates was so jealous of this prize, that he told my son that he was going to come to his house at night and kill him in his sleep. Being in 4th grade, the likelihood of that actually happening was somewhat minimal at best, so we weren’t so concerned with an impending homicide, but we were upset about the fear that was now instilled in my son.
Through gritted teeth, I attempted to calm my child, letting him know that he had done the right thing in telling us, and that we would work to rectify the situation, but on the inside, I wanted to go out and break that other 4th graders legs. My instinct to protect my son and destroy anything that was hurting him was so fierce, that I seriously considered hobbling someone one-fourth my age.
My father used to always tell me that, “no one will ever love you like your mother,” a phrase I repeat to my own son often. The concept there is that whoever my son’s mate ends up being in life, no one will feel as protective or willing to suffer for you as much as the people who raised you. I can remember my mother, when I was sick, wishing that it was her instead of me who had fallen ill. I see that now in myself, when I spy my son sick or in pain, that my desire to not have him suffer is so great, I wish I could take his suffering upon myself.
And if our desire to take on the suffering of our children is that great, one can only imagine God’s desire to care and relieve our suffering, as we are His children, a title that we have been given. Repeatedly, we are proclaimed as such: “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 John 3.1). Based in love, we are His children just as He is our Father, and given the protective parental nature we feel, His protective nature must be eons more strong and caring.
Just how caring? To the point that our identity is no longer our own and we are named heirs to His kingdom in the same way that our blood-related children are heirs to our own homes and money. The author of Galatians 3.26-9 writes about how we are now one in Him and are inheritors of His riches: “So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” We are so much His child that we are deemed the offspring of Abraham, as if we were of His actual blood and flesh. So if we are truly children of God, then the desire as Father to protect us and take on our suffering makes sense, and is evidenced in how He sent Christ to suffer for us.
We might be able to only fathom God’s love and protective nature for us, but we can get a glimpse of it in the love that our parents have for us and in the love we have for our own children. It’s a comforting feeling knowing that we are never alone, that there is always someone watching over us, desiring us to be pain-free and protected. This week, when you find yourself feeling low and alone, pray to Him who desires to comfort you in those difficult times, and feel the loving, watchful eye that looks over you and is preparing your inheritance even as we speak. Amen.