He was devastated. It was obvious when he ran up to me, sobbing, barely able to be understood through his tears.
“I lost them!” He cried, flinging himself into my arms in desperation.
I immediately knew what had happened. I had told him not to bring his Teeny Mates into the gym where his sister takes gymnastics. I told him that he would lose the small toys in the gym’s playroom. But he didn’t obey, and the outcome was inevitable.
We searched through all of the toy bins, underneath chairs, and in the trash. But we finally had to give up the search and head home, defeated. I left a note at the desk for them to call us if they found the four little football figures (of course, he chose to take in his favorite ones!).
When we got home, I took him aside and said, “Son, let’s pray. God may say ‘no’ to you finding your toys in order to teach you a lesson, but He may say ‘yes.’ Either way, He wants to hear from you, so let’s talk to Him about it.”
My son seemed doubtful, but he would have given anything to retrace his steps and leave the toys in the car. He remained quite upset about it for the rest of the day, and I texted my husband that it was a rough lesson for him to learn. But what could I do?
“Do not be anxious about anything, but IN EVERYTHING by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” – Phil. 4:6.
Now I know that these were silly, little 1″ toys that we were praying about. They are cheap and don’t really do anything special. But for some reason, my son has placed a lot of value on these toys, and they are something that he enjoys collecting with his daddy. And, as the verse above says, we are to pray about EVERYTHING!
Does God care about 1″ toys? Of course not. But He does care about us. He cares about my six-year-old boy, whose heart is tender and eager to see God’s hand working in his life.
Matthew 6:25-34 tells us how He cares: “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.”
I think that we often forget just how much God really does care about us. He cares when we are betrayed in our relationships. He cares when we lose our job and struggle to make ends meet. He cares when we find ourselves for an extended stay in the hospital. He cares when we mourn the loss of a loved one.
And sometimes, we may believe that God cares for us in those really difficult times but forgets about us in the mundane routine of life. He cares for us when we are drowning in the never-ending piles of laundry. He cares for us when our difficult learner is screaming and throwing a tantrum because she can’t possibly write two sentences! He cares for us when our three-year-old pees on the bathroom floor.
There is nothing – NOTHING – in our lives that is insignificant to God because He loves us ALL. THE. TIME. He cares about lost toys because He cares about the person who is devastated by the loss of that toy.
“People were bringing little children to Jesus for Him to place His hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. 14 When Jesus saw this, He was indignant. He said to them, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 15 Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.’ 16 And He took the children in His arms, placed His hands on them and blessed them” – Mk. 10:13-16.
Jesus longs for us to come running to Him with our cares. He wants us to be as the children are, unashamedly coming to Him to receive His blessing. But we hold back, holding onto temporal things that can’t help us. And we worry and cry and scream and rant. But we don’t pray. We don’t give it up to Him because we don’t trust Him to care about us.
My son was doubtful that God would answer his prayer. He didn’t think that God would care about his toys. But I knew that it was an opportunity for me to teach him something about God. So we prayed together. But I must confess, I had my own doubts. Was I just being dramatic? Did God really care about toys?
My son was mostly anxious about telling his daddy about it when he came home from work. The two had been collecting them together, and he didn’t want to tell his dad that he had not taken care of them.
But God was already on the move. When I texted him to let him know how devastated our son was, my husband happened to be talking to a customer whose son takes karate with our son. The packs of Teeny Mates are only 50 cents a pack, so he bought a couple to send home with my husband.
My son was so excited! Here was a stranger (to him) who carried out God’s love in a small, yet significant way. The cost was minimal, but the pay-off was huge! But he was still upset because he had lost the most important Teeny Mate, an exclusive one that is hard to find.
He felt loved and forgiven, but he was still miserable over that one loss.
Aren’t we all like that? Even when we know that God loves us and has forgiven us, we all have that one sin, that one loss, that we just can’t shake off our hearts. We are given new life, but something from our old life holds us back from experiencing the fullness of joy that God has offered to us. In fact, we often let ourselves become so obsessed with that one thing that we completely miss all of the blessings He has for us!
Every time my son looked at his Teeny Mates on the shelf, he would say, “But I lost my favorite one.” He couldn’t see all the other ones that he DID have!
God cares so much for us that He pursues us – even when we keep looking back on what we have lost, even when we can’t appreciate His goodness to us. And He reminds us over and over again through His actions and responses that we are important to Him.
The week passed without any word from the gym about my son’s toys. On the way to gymnastics, I told him that he could search for them again while he was playing but that maybe God had told him “no” because he needed to learn a lesson about responsibility. I could see the sadness and resignation in his eyes because he knew that he had no one to blame but himself. Still, he had hoped that God would say “yes.” So we prayed again and asked that God would help him.
When we arrived at the gym, one of his friends came running up to him and said, “We found one of your toys!” My son was excited, but still, it wasn’t the one he wanted. But I reminded him that God was gracious in giving him back even one of his toys.
The class progressed, and no more toys were found. I was resigning myself to having another afternoon of disappointment from my six-year-old when one of the teachers arrived for the next class.
“Oh, I was hoping you’d be here today,” she exclaimed. Then she went behind the desk and pulled out the special, exclusive Teeny Mate that my son had been so upset over. When my son saw it, he was overjoyed. He couldn’t believe that it had been found!
We still haven’t found the other two. They could easily have been vacuumed up or taken by another child. I told my son that it seemed that God was showing him mercy AND teaching him a lesson in responsibility. But God gave my son something special that day – a renewed hope and the reassurance that God does, indeed, care about him.
“Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer” – Rom. 12:12.
I don’t know what you are going through right now. I have friends going through minor trials of dealing with unruly children or struggling through the stomach bug to major trials of losing a baby or fighting Stage 3 cancer. Life isn’t fair. It hits us hard again and again and again and again until we fall to our knees in despair.
But that’s where God meets us. That’s where He wants us to be. He wants us to find ourselves on our knees so that all we can do is look up for Him. He cares about you. You are important. You are special. You are loved.
“Casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you” – I Pt. 5:7.