Sound Words, July 21, 2019

Sound Words, July 21, 2019

Why Do Children Cry

When babies hurt or need something, when all is not the way it should be, they cry out to their parents. Even as young children acquire language, some thoughts and feelings continue to transcend the limits of their vocabularies, leaving crying as the only option to communicate what truly is transpiring within them. And if we are honest with ourselves, we will admit that we adults can still relate. As we grow, the harsh realities of a sin-soaked world grow with us, occasionally overwhelming us—and our significantly larger vocabularies—with feelings too deep for any words known to mankind. So we cry. As children of a loving heavenly Father, we cry out to Him when we are hurting and when life is difficult. The ray of truth that shines through those dark moments, however, is this: God hears us.

Scripture beautifully illustrates this fact early in the Bible story, as Moses records the history of God’s people and their humble beginnings in the land of Egypt. Despite the oppressive nature of Egyptian bondage, the children of Israel lived under the watchful eye and attentive ear of the Lord. Moses records, “During those many days the king of Egypt died, and the people of Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help. Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God. And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. God saw the people of Israel—and God knew” (Exodus 2:23-25 ESV).

The comfort we find in the beginning of the Exodus story is rooted in the fact that God not only heard the cries of the Hebrew slaves; He heard and specifically recognized the voices of people about whom He cared deeply. Parents often can tell when one of their own is crying. Having loved that child and answered his cries continually, the child’s parents can pick his voice out of a crowd. And as God’s children, our voices are equally distinct to God. He hears us and knows we are His.

Answering cries, however, does not mean immediately healing all the pain. When children hurt, they only see the pain. They do not see solutions, nor can they glimpse a brighter day. Their perspective is best summed up in the plea, “Make it stop!” Sometimes, parents give a child what she needs, but it does not remove the pain right away. It might take twenty minutes for medicine to take effect, for instance. The parent knows things will be better soon, but the child only knows now. Honestly, the parent knows it might have to get worse before it gets better, and the parent might even have to be the one who makes it worse, for a moment, to make the situation better overall.

Try to contemplate the perceived horror of sticking a needle in the arm of a screaming two-year-old. The child would never understand if we tried to explain to her how this injection was going to help her fight something that could end her life. Instead, we say, “Just trust me; this is the only way to help you feel better.” The parallel remains accurate with us as God’s children: we only see pain, right here, right now. God sees the way and the day things will get better. And He knows that sometimes we will have to hurt more before we are healed. But God sees all, without regard to time. His eternal perspective is incomprehensible to us; we would not understand, even if He tried to explain what He was doing. And so He says, “Trust Me, this is for the best.” You see, just because God permits pain, does not mean He is not hearing our cries. He hears. He cares. He knows those who are His. And He will always do what is best for us, even when we cannot understand.

B.J. Young (7-21-19)