A couple of my kids were acting up the other day. As my frustration level started to inch up, a thought hit me: Those kids need some strong love right now. The next thought was, “what does that mean, anyway? …and besides I don’t feel very strong right now…” My little self talk continued until I looked up with tears and said, “only you can give strong love, Lord. Only you can give it to me and only you can give it to them. I can’t do this, I’m not strong enough.”
Strong love is the kind of love that can take anything you throw at it. It is trustworthy and sincere. Strong love can withstand sins great and small and come back with forgiveness and compassion. Strong love can overcome quarreling children and respond with a firm tone that conveys unconditional love and understanding. Strong love can take disappointment and turn it into an opportunity for praise. Strong love recognizes and stands against rebellion but is entreatable and is quick to forgive.
Strong love doesn’t mistake hard providence for sinful offense. Strong love can comfort a teething baby, hold up the hair of a flu-addled girl ashamed of being sick all over the floor, give full-contact attention to a left-out middle child, and remain calm in handling a rambunctious boy’s hospital-worthy injury. Strong love can handle being misunderstood and decides to cover it with grace.
Strong love is the the love the Father has for us, his sinful children. Strong love does not try to right every wrong by correcting the wrongdoer; it rights every wrong by correcting the universe. Our Father, in his strong love, can take anything we throw at him. He forgives all manner of sins, when we quarrel with each other he tells us firmly in his Word how we are to right that and then he gives us his unconditional love. Jesus doesn’t stop loving us when we let him down. He knows we are but dust, he remembers our frames and has compassion on us (Psalm 103).
Jesus’ love was strong enough to bear the fullness of my sins in his body on the tree, so that I might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds I have been healed (1 Peter 2:24). Jesus’ love was strong enough to bear my children’s sins and my husband’s sins and the sins of all those who cry out, “Lord be merciful to me, I am a sinner.” He bore them so that through his righteousness we can give those around us strong love.
Strong love is the kind of love our heavenly Father gives to us so that we may in turn strongly love our children. Sometimes when I see one of my children withering under the weight of their sin, the strongest love I can give them is to silently just hold them, tell them that no matter what they do they will never stop being my child and that I will always love them strong.