Children in need give us what we most need!
Isaiah 40: 27- 31 and Matthew 18: 1-9
All our children are in need, but they give us what we most need! They need our love, but what we get from them is the strength and inspiration to do what we must do!
As Children in Need took over for an evening on BBC television I was encouraged to pause and reflect on what children do for us, rather than what we do for them. I am so inspired by ‘children in need’ because they develop such amazing resilience, courage and perseverance in the face of great adversity. I hear so many stories of children who, though weakened by disabilities, are helping their parents find new strength.
I remember how the cries of a baby would wear me out, but then the first word — I like to think it was daddy, but it was probably mummy! — gave us new strength. I remember being exhausted by the constant picking up of the baby, but then, almost at the blink of an eye, she was moving and we were given new strength for the next challenge. We like to think it is through OUR strength that we give children the power to do what they do, but it is from their weaknesses that we find the strength that we need.
No sooner had the first words been spoken we were wondering how to keep the children quiet — so they might be seen but not heard! They had hardly taken their first steps and we were wanting them to sit still so we knew where they were.
The first words, the first steps and the moments the children sleep through the night or feed themselves are all taken for granted, but that doesn’t happen for some and they have to find different ways to do things. It is those amazing ABILITIES they discover that give strength to weary parents and carers. Some children might never walk, or see, or speak and we cry out to God, “why, oh why, do you let this happen?” Then we see what they achieve and the question changes: “How, oh God, how do you make this happen?” I will never understand how the Lord increases the power of the weak so the weary may have strength! I see them as the wind that helps the eagle fly as described in Isaiah 40: 28-31.
Our children in need give us what we most need to achieve the impossible and fly like an eagle. Through them God breathes the Holy Spirit that picks us up when we are tired and weary so that we can fly and reach for the sky. I will never understand the “why” or the “how”, but our strength is renewed when we put our hope in the Lord so why not let our children help us fly?
As the Psalmist says (8:2) and Jesus echoes as he enters Jerusalem to confront his opponents, “from the lips of children and infants God has ordained praise!” It is through the weakest, the most vulnerable and the humble that God speaks with the power and authority that shatters the wisdom of the world. What we most need is for the children in need to shatter all our perceptions of wisdom and have hope in what so many see as the foolishness of God.
We give ourselves the power and authority that comes from our years of learning but it’s the wisdom that comes from the world and if we rediscover the innocence of our childhood we can be ‘born again’ and reveal the kingdom we all pray will come.
Change and become like little children to find the kingdom of heaven, Jesus says or, “no-one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” (John 3: 3) The Spirit of God is in our hearts from birth, but pushed out by the wisdom of the world so welcome her back and let our children in need give us what we most need!
If you are looking for the kingdom of God here or there or anywhere start by looking at the children and be inspired by them so that it can find a home within you. (Luke 17:21). That’s where God wants it to be. How willing are we to change and let it in?
It is in welcoming the little child for who they are, what they do and what they say that we welcome Jesus. I looked at the faces of the young people taking part in the BBC Children in Need Rickshaw Challenge this year and saw and heard the Lord inspiring us to achieve the impossible and fly. If they can do it, why can’t we?
“I want to share my story in the hope that I can help show the world that having a disability doesn’t mean you can’t succeed,” says Lauren who was born with Turner Syndrome, One Dysplasia and Dwarfism which affect her emotionally and physically and can cause a lot of pain. It is through music that God has given her hope. God is the great musician of creation and sings through the voices of our children so listen.
“I want to share my story and show that even though I’m in a wheelchair I’m really no different to anyone else,” says Rosie and Sarah, who now has a dog to help her hear, says: “I hope that my story helps to inspire other young people like me.”
I want to say to Rosie that we are all different and some people have to overcome greater challenges than others and it is that great Spirit of God through you that inspires the world to achieve what seems impossible. To Sarah I want to say that it isn’t young people like her who are inspired, but people like me who see how God helps the impossible happen.
All children are in need of love, whoever they are, wherever they live, and as we invest that love in them, and each other, we will receive what we need most. Children don’t cause us to sin, but we cause children to sin through our attitudes to differences whether they be of race, culture, gender or abilities.
The welcome Jesus expresses is not a token gesture of acknowledgement, but an embrace into society that helps people feel an equal. People who are identified as having disabilities will develop greater abilities than most of us as the Spirit enables them to achieve the impossible and deliver the strength WE most need.
People can appear to be so different to us that we don’t know what to do, but all they need is, as the Beatles sang, LOVE. Love, love, love and nothing more, or less, than LOVE. Parents and carers give it in abundance, but this is not a message to them because it is the attitude of society that can make our differences so difficult to overcome.
When children see and hear family and friends abused for the colour of their skin or the religion they have been born into they grow to feel excluded and exclusion breeds frustration and anger. When children are mocked because their abilities are different to others they will feel hurt and inadequate so don’t contribute with the great gifts that they have. Children are the seeds of hope for the future to be nurtured with love so they can become the flowers that inspire us with their beauty.
Parents can bring Jesus to the world through their children, but the world will rebuke them as being foolish because the children are not wise enough. It’s my twist of words on the story of parents bringing their children to Jesus for the touch that they need, but being rebuked by the disciples. (Mark 10: 13-16) I hope as disciples we have learnt the lessons and embrace the kingdom of God that is in our children, all children of all abilities.
I use the words of Jesus as he calls the weary and burdened to him as a prayer: “We praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden the truth from the wise and learned and revealed it to the little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure!” (Matthew 11: 25-26) Amen to that!
The truth is that Jesus is present in the most vulnerable and humble, confirmed by his teaching and witnessed in all our differences including the hungry and thirsty; the homeless strangers; the sick and the naked or the prisoners of circumstances. What we do for them we do for Jesus who is also with the most vulnerable of children who need to be loved so they can give us the strength that we need…..
I am inspired by the thought of Jesus in a wheelchair as a child reaching out with the promised Kingdom to come if we do the will of God on earth as in heaven! He is a child in need who will give us what we most need.