In October 2000, God blessed my husband and me with a beautiful baby daughter, whom we named Adriane. During my 16-month career of being a parent, I discovered that children have many virtues, and I’d like to share with you two of these characteristics that we can learn from.
In Matthew 18:3, Jesus said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. I used to wonder what this verse meant.
Some people said that being like a child is having a simple childlike faith—accepting what you hear without question. But this explanation was hard for me to accept, because I wondered, what if what you’re taught isn’t correct?
I pondered the meaning of this verse a long time, but I didn’t really understand what it meant until after I became a parent and carefully observed the virtues of young children.
I believe that God has given us the relationships around us so that we can better understand our relationship with Him. He has given us children of our own to better understand His abounding love for us.
As we study how children relate to their parents and the world around them, we, too, can learn how to better relate to our Heavenly Father and to become as little children again, for “the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Mt 19:14).
One day as Adriane was a little over a year old, I was in the kitchen washing the dishes. She came up to me and, stretching out her arms, said, “Bao-bao!” (which means “hold me” in Mandarin), but I wanted to finish the dishes so I gave her some plastic measuring cups to play with. She sat down and happily played with them for all of sixty seconds, and then she threw them aside and held her hands up to me, wanting me to hold her again.
So I gave her some wooden spoons to play with, and she sat down again and happily played with them for all of thirty seconds, and her arms went up again, wanting me to hold her.
Then I opened one of the drawers in the kitchen with miscellaneous sponges and washcloths, and she took everything out of the drawer and threw them on the ground (which lasted about a total of fifteen seconds), and up her arms went to me again, and this time, she cried loudly.
I tried one last time and gave her a silver spoon to play with, and this time she threw it on the floor forcefully and cried even louder. This finally convinced me that I couldn’t put her off any longer, so I picked her up. She wasn’t hungry or tired; she just wanted to be with me and close to me.
In our relationship with our Heavenly Father, I think we all start out somewhat like Adriane. We know that only the Lord Jesus Christ can truly satisfy us, and we make the effort to draw close to Him.
But as we continue our walk, the world throws all kinds of things at us, like money, fame, power, relationships, and temptations. These divert us from our true goal, which is finding satisfaction in our Lord Jesus Christ.
Somehow, we are hoodwinked into thinking that these things will satisfy our hearts. True, these things may divert us for a while, but that’s all they are—diversions. They cannot truly satisfy our souls.
Filling the Emptiness
Depression is rampant among old and young alike. It affects 20% of all women, 10% of all men, and 5% of adolescents worldwide. Although the United States has one of the highest standards of living, depression is the most common psychological problem in the US, afflicting about 17.6 million people each year.
Many people have emptiness in their hearts, and they try to fill it through many things: pleasures, projects, and even other people. Many fail to fill that emptiness, and the end result is ongoing depression or worse—suicide.
These people do not realize that only God, our Heavenly Father, can fill the emptiness in our hearts, just as children have a need in their hearts that can only be filled by their parents.
Now an interesting thing about this percentage is that it includes Christians and non-Christians alike. Which means that as Christians, although we believe in the Lord Jesus, we do not go to Him to fill our hearts and give us true joy and satisfaction. Many times, we consciously know that only the Lord Jesus can give us true joy, but for some reason, we go to look for happiness in other places.
When we’re feeling bored, we switch on the TV or go to the movies. When we’re feeling lonely, we hang out with boyfriends or girlfriends, or go to parties. When we’re feeling stressed out, we play basketball or golf. But it is rare that we think of turning to our Lord Jesus.
After I gave birth, I was really busy with the feeding, changing, and general care of an infant. I had no time even to take a shower or sleep, much less pray and read the Bible. I started to feel really grouchy and even a little depressed at my overall state.
I thought that what I needed was time to pamper myself; so I took out the time to indulge in hot baths, do some pleasure reading, and go shopping. I tried to give myself “alone time” but still I felt a sense of unhappiness.
Finally, I realized that these things were not the things that I was missing. What I was missing was “alone time” with my Heavenly Father. It wasn’t until I started praying regularly and reading the Bible that I felt the emptiness in my heart slowly start to fill.
This was King Solomon’s conclusion of life:
Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, Before the difficult days come, And the years draw near when you say, “I have no pleasure in them…” Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every work into judgment, Including every secret thing, Whether it is good or evil. (Eccl 12:1-8, 13-14)
Solomon’s life went around in a big circle. He began his life close to God, but he departed to find his own way, and in the end, he came back to God again. But he had wasted his entire life, and that’s why he tells us to “remember our Creator in our youth,” and not when we near the end of our lives.
True Satisfaction in Jesus Christ
In contrast, let’s look at apostle Paul’s view on earthly pleasures.
Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ. (Phil 3:8)
Paul was a man who truly had spiritual wisdom and spiritual sight. He could see through the masquerade of this world and tell what was truly valuable in this world, which was Jesus Christ.
Paul was a man of good standing—on his way to becoming a top religious leader when Jesus called Him. He could have continued looking for happiness through status or wealth or power. But he considered all of this rubbish because he knew that none could satisfy but the Lord Jesus. So he gave everything up in order to gain Christ.
What about us today? How do we try to find joy and satisfaction in our lives? Are we still looking for happiness in worldly pleasures, money, success or fame? Solomon has been there and done that, and he warns us against it. None of those things can give us true joy and satisfaction. We can only find true joy in our Lord Jesus.
So the next time we’re feeling bored, lonely, frustrated, or depressed, instead of switching on that TV or going to that party or playing golf, try going to our Heavenly Father. Raise our arms up to Him in prayer, and ask Him to hold us for a little while. Spend some time on His lap and listen to His loving words.
I think Adriane had it right when she threw those measuring cups, wooden spoons, and washcloths aside. She didn’t let those toys make her lose sight of what she really needed. She would never settle for a replacement. We, too, shouldn’t settle for replacements; instead, we should actively, insistently seek the “Real Thing”—our Father in heaven.
Children have no worries, and I think I’ve figured out why. Whenever they have a problem, they have someone to go to—us, their parents. Granted, their problems are relatively easy for us to solve.
When Adriane is hungry, she comes to me and I give her something to eat. When she’s bored, she comes to me and I read her a story. When she falls down, she comes to me and I give her a hug and make her feel better. She doesn’t have a care in the world, because if she doesn’t feel good, can’t do it, or can’t figure things out, it’s okay—just go to mommy or daddy.
Just think… what if there was someone whom you could totally trust and rely on with all your problems? Having problems with the presentation at work? No problem, just go to this person and he’ll handle it.
Having problems with a friend and don’t know what do to? Just go to this person and he’ll give you sound advice. Feeling sick and under the weather? This person will make you feel better in no time. If we had someone like this, we probably wouldn’t have any worries too.
Unfortunately, we’re all grown up now, and we no longer expect our parents, or anyone else for that matter, to take care of all of our problems. Besides, there isn’t anyone who can handle all of our problems anyway.
Or is there?
Of course there is Someone just like this, and both you and I know who it is—our Heavenly Father.
But many of us do not have this child-like trust and reliance in God. Somehow, we lose this reliant heart as we grow up and learn new things. We start to think that we actually know something, and we actually can do something, so we shouldn’t ask for help.
We think that this is a step in the right direction, becoming independent, and doing our own thing. But in reality, it puts the burden on ourselves, a burden too heavy to bear on our helpless shoulders.
Contrary to how the world works, God wants us to be reliant on Him, to cast all our cares upon Him (1 Pet 5:7). In order to do be completely reliant on the Lord, it takes three things on our part: belief, giving over, and trust.
First of all, we need to believe that God has the power to solve our problems. Hebrews 11:6 tells us, “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” We need to believe that God is there and that He has the power to help us and to do the impossible.
Recorded in Matthew 8:5-13 is a story of a centurion who came to Jesus and asked Him to heal his servant. Jesus highly commended this centurion, who truly believed in Jesus’ power. He had the unswerving faith that Jesus could heal his servant.
Do we truly believe that the Lord Jesus can help us with our problems? Even today, I am amazed whenever God answers my prayers, big or small.
Giving Over Our Worries
A lot of times, we may know in our hearts that God has the power to help us, but we just don’t ask for help. Philippians 4:6-7 tells us, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
This verse teaches us that in order to receive the peace of God, we need to make our requests known to Him through prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving. This means that it is not enough for us to believe in God’s power to help us and to trust He will do the best thing for us, but that we also need to ask Him for help.
This seems like such an obvious thing, but it is something that we neglect. God gives us free will to make our own choices and decisions. But if we need His help, we need to ask Him.
Lastly, we need to trust that whatever God does (or doesn’t do at the moment), it is the best thing for us. Some of us might think, “Okay, I do trust in the Lord, but when I pray to Him, He doesn’t answer me. Either that, or He’ll take too long. God just doesn’t do what I want.”
Part of trusting means trusting in how God answers us and in His timing, too. Sometimes, God will answer immediately; sometimes he’ll have us wait. But we need to trust that “all things work together for good to those who love God, who are called according to His purpose” (Rom 8:28).
Jesus says, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (Jn 14:27).
True peace lies in the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus tells us that He gives us a kind of peace that the world cannot give us. He gives us the kind of peace that Stephen experienced as he was being stoned to death.
He gives the kind of peace that Paul and Silas experienced, so that they could sing hymns to praise God even as they were beaten and thrown into jail. He gives the kind of peace that Jesus experienced as He faced the cruelest form of torture known to mankind—crucifixion.
Children really have it right when they go to their parents with all their problems. The next time we are worried, afraid, or troubled, let’s remember that there is someone there who has the power to solve all our problems. Let us ask our Lord Jesus Christ to help us through, and trust that He can and will do the best thing for us.
People say that childhood is the best time in a person’s life, and perhaps the reason why is because children have such joy and peace from their relationship with their parents. We, too, can experience such joy and peace by strengthening our relationship with our Heavenly Father.
Let us remember that only our Heavenly Father can give us true joy and satisfaction in this world, and remember to go to Him the next time we are feeling unhappy, lonely, or depressed. Let’s also remember that we have someone to rely on with all our problems—someone who has unlimited power and unlimited love for us. We can cast all our cares upon the Lord, and He will take care of us.
If we can pursue these two important characteristics and try to revert to a child-like heart, we will be able to live the life of joy and peace that our Lord has promised us.
(Source: Manna 39: Spiritual Discipline)