My son started school today. For the past couple years I’ve looked forward to this day. I work mostly out of our home, so free babysitting for 8 hours a day sounds slightly more than wonderful.
And yet, as I watched from our apartment balcony him walking away with my wife, a heaviness fell upon me.
I’m hurting. My little boy has begun school.
I won’t be there to speak into every time he feels hurt, confused, or scared.
I won’t be there to tell him he’s tough.
I won’t even know the first time he feels lost and insecure.
I won’t know the moment he first feels betrayal.
I won’t be there to explain when he sees injustice.
I’ve never wanted to live our lives in such a way that my kids won’t fall down and hurt themselves. I just want to be the first one there to pick them up.
But there’s more to it than that. I know every parent goes through emotion and pain when kids reach milestones, start school, move out, and so forth. I don’t mean to demean any of that, it’s all very real and quite difficult. But we threw another variable in. While my son’s in school, I won’t have a clue what’s going on there. We are living in a foreign land, and he is attending a national school, and I know absolutely nothing about it. I never had anything remotely close to the experiences that he’s about to have. I never had classmates who speak a different heart language than myself. I can’t relate to an urban childhood, a socialized system, a culture of ‘no’, and a knowledge-based education. I don’t even know yet the terms he’ll learn for learning. I definitely won’t know the words he learns from the other kids in a few years...
Isn’t it nice to know that God’s not a father like me? Unable to relate? Not him.
“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14).
Maybe God hurt on that day like I do now, probably worse. But in so doing He positioned himself to be able to relate to us. We don’t pray to a God that can pick us up and rub our boo-boos but doesn’t understand our pain. We pray to a God that has walked this earth and experienced these struggles and knows EXACTLY what we’re feeling, thinking, and doubting. God’s not blind to our experiences 8 hours a day. When Jesus came to earth, so too did the Father. And through those experiences, he’s just like the big brother I hope my son will one day be to his baby sister when she’s lost and hurting in school. “I’ve been there, I know what it’s like. Here, let me show you the way forward.”
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are” (Hebrews 4:15).