A Word of Encouragement from Elizabeth Rice Handford

One morning my child said to me, “Mother, please be tender with me today.”

Unusual request. What was behind it, I wondered. “I will be tender, I promise,” I answered. “Do you want to talk about it?”


That day I did try to be extra sensitive to the feelings and needs of my little child. Of course I wanted always to be tender with my children, to be aware when one needed extra loving attention. But it isn’t always easy for a parent to find a balance between nurture and discipline, between compassion and teaching right from wrong, from meeting deadlines and avoiding chaos, while remembering the vulnerability of the child. All seven of my children deserve my deep compassion and understanding of their needs. And I tried to give it to them, even with the pressures that beset every parent. This child needed tenderness, certainly, but so did the cocky, independent child who brassily shrugs off any display of affection or emotion.

Sometimes we adults envy what we think is the care-free life of children. They don’t have to pay the bills, keep the house clean and comfortable, work long and tedious hours. But their lives are not carefree.
I can remember sitting on the steps of the porch one night, looking up at the glittering stars in the Texas sky, and praying out loud, “God, you don’t know what it feels like to be a little girl nine years old and have so many problems.”

I was wrong. I knew so little about my Heavenly Father; I didn’t know how He truly felt about me. He knows all about our hearts, and loved us so much He sent Jesus to die for our sins.

The LORD is merciful and gracious,
Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy. . . .
As a father pities his children,
So the LORD pities those who fear Him.
For He knows our frame;
He remembers that we are dust. Psalm 103:8-14 nkjv

But children aren’t the only ones who need compassion and tenderness. “The mass of humanity,” said Henry David Thoreau, “lead lives of quiet desperation.”

I was reminded of this last week, when I flew from Orlando to Greenville. I changed planes in Atlanta. A young man had a wheel chair waiting at the jetway for me and whisked me, with courtesy and expertise, from one terminal to another for my connecting flight. We chatted on the way. “I grew up in Dallas,” he said. “Me, too,” I said. When we got to my departure gate, I gave him a tract I had written and a generous tip. I asked him, “Do you know the Lord Jesus?”

He answered, with tears in his voice, “Yes, yes. I couldn’t have handled the tragedies in my life without Him.”

The Atlanta airport is the busiest in the whole world, and more than than 300,000 people would move through it that Friday. How many of those, do you suppose, had a broken heart, a desperate need, an aching void?

Shouldn’t we who know Jesus show them tenderness? Shouldn’t we be alert to share the blessed Gospel at every opportunity? Don’t they deserve to know how much God loves them?

Dear God, may we Christians please show people tenderness today.