The Tenderness of God
She left home. Angry and frustrated. She
was eighteen years old. "I don't want
your God. I don't want you!" were her
last words to her parents as she slammed
the door. Years passed. The father died.
The mother grew older. The daughter became
more entrenched in her lifestyle.
The mother however kept believing in the
basic goodness of her daughter. She kept
going to different churches asking simply
to let them put a photo on their notice board.
It was a photo of the gray-haired mother
with a straightforward handwritten message,
"I love you still… come home!"
And one day the miracle happened. The daughter
entered into a church and saw the photo and
was very much struck. She decided to go back
When she arrived, it was early morning, still
dark. She felt nervous. She knocked at the
door timidly. The door just flew open! Thinking
that someone must have broken in the house,
she rushed into her mother's bedroom and
shaking her awake just said "It's me!
It's me! It's me!"
The mother was overjoyed. The daughter was
tearful. Both of them embraced each other…
"I was so worried," the daughter
exclaimed. "The door was open and I
thought someone had broken in!" "No,
dear," was the simple answer of her
mother. "From the day you left, the
door has never been locked."
God is like this mother. He always keeps
His doors unlocked so that we can come in
"A God of tenderness and compassion"
is the first title that God claims when He
appeared to Moses on Mount Sinai and which
afterwards, all Scripture will give Him.
Except for one occasion, when it is used
of man, the adjective "tender"
is always reserved to God!
Tenderness has been defined as a tendency
to express warm and affectionate feelings
towards someone, a soft heartedness that
is a concern for the welfare of the other,
especially someone defenseless.
The Hebrew word for tenderness is in fact
rahamim, bowels, the intensive plural of
rehem, the maternal womb. God is like a mother
who feels for her children. The Scripture
tells us that His tenderness is gratuitous,
always on the alert, immense, inexhaustible,
renewed every morning and unshakably faithful…
He has actually set His affection on us and
this for no reason at all! Gosh!
I came across a children's book named 'Awful
Abigail and Why She Changed' that speaks
vividly of this aspect of God's love. Abigail,
an innkeeper's daughter, earns her name 'awful'
by being the kind of little girl who gets
on everyone's nerves. One night she is sent
to her room, where she watches from her balcony
as Mary and Joseph arrive and inquire about
staying in her father's inn. Once everyone
is in bed, Awful Abigail follows a faint
light that leads her to the manger. She opens
the door and sees the new born baby Jesus
who smiles at her, and the story ends with
this wonderful line: "Somehow she knew
a dream had come true, and Someone who loved
her had found her."
Yes, God is not put off by the messy, broken,
sinful, awful aspects of our lives. He pursues
us right into the middle of the mess. In
Hosea, God talks of wooing Israel, His adulterous
bride, into the wilderness. There He will
"speak tenderly to her" and there
He will give her vineyards and "a door
In the Gospels we see John always only a
few steps from Jesus. The night before Jesus
was betrayed, there was John, leaning on
His breast as though he did not want to miss
a single beat. At the end of John's life,
when he was exiled on the island of Patmos
at the age of 90, he was writing about Christ
as "Him who loves us and has freed us
from our sins by his blood".
Perhaps the most telling thing about John's
life is how he describes himself - openly
and without embarrassment - as 'the disciple
whom Jesus loved'. John's deepest, truest
identity was centered around the reality
of being loved by God. It was the essence
of how he thought of himself!
Let yourself be immersed in the gentle healing
tenderness of God! In experiencing this gentleness,
you will always have the sensation of standing
on the edge of a vast ocean with your feet
barely wet, longing to swim to the other
(c) Fr. Pius Sammut, OCD. Permission
hereby granted for any non-commercial
provided that the content is unaltered
its original state, if this copyright