One of the most famous painters of all time, Rembrandt, crafted a well-known piece of art called, The Return of the Prodigal Son. In this painting, Rembrandt captures the full expression of God's character by drawing our Heavenly Father with two vastly different hands. One hand is drawn masculine; the skin and fingers rugged, protective, and strong. The other is clearly depicted as feminine; slender, soft, and tender looking. What a beautiful and eye-opening way to demonstrate both the masculine and feminine sides of God. The Bible says we are created in his image; male and female he created us (Genesis 1:27). We are crafted to depict these different characteristics of God to the world.
We are going to look closer at what’s depicted by the feminine hand. We could say those are nurturing hands.
The word nurture itself is a verb, and it means to care for and protect (someone or something) while they are growing.
That tender hand reminds us of the ways God nurtures us. He is our caregiver. He is loving and kind. We can read how he tends to our needs all throughout the Bible. Here are just a few verses that show us the tender heart of God:
· "He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds."—Psalm 147:3
· "The Sovereign LORD will wipe away all tears."—Isaiah 25:8
· "He will feed his flock like a shepherd. He will carry the lambs in his arms, holding them close to his heart. He will gently lead the mother sheep with their young."—Isaiah 40:11
Don’t you just love that! He bandages our wounds. He wipes away our tears. He feeds us like a shepherd. He carries us, holding us close to his heart. There is so much comfort we can draw from these reminders. We need this nurturing support from God all throughout our lives.
In the same way we are surrounded by opportunities to represent God to others through nurturing. To extend the hand of God in this way to those around us. To pour into them and encourage them. To tend to their needs. To have the coffees and the one-on-ones that bring life.
We women are especially equipped for this task. We were created to nurture even as we lead, inspire, and as we run in all our lanes and wear the various hats we wear. This doesn’t take away from our strength. It lends to it.
Through nurturing we raise up others around us to be who God called them to be. We are an extension of God to them.
We bring the same comfort that God himself offers us. This world desperately needs this tender loving care, and as we awaken to the call to nurture, the world is awakened by the love of Jesus displayed through his royal daughters. We are crowned for this!
Let’s take a closer look at how we are crowned to nurture:
1. When you think of the word, nurture, what comes to mind?
2. Who has been a nurturer to you in your life?
3. Who in your world can you nurture, care for and protect?
For further reflection:
It’s so common to hear women say that we are so used to being the givers and the nurturers that it’s hard for us to receive care and support from the people around us. If your nurture tank is running on empty, think of someone in your world you receive encouragement and life from spending time with them. Reach out to them via a phone call or set up a time to get together. Take time to nurture you this week so you can keep pouring out to others.
Verses on nurturing:
1 Thessalonians 2:7-12New Living Translation (NLT) - 7 As apostles of Christ we certainly had a right to make some demands of you, but instead we were like children[a] among you. Or we were like a mother feeding and caring for her own children. 8 We loved you so much that we shared with you not only God’s Good News but our own lives, too. 9 Don’t you remember, dear brothers and sisters, how hard we worked among you? Night and day we toiled to earn a living so that we would not be a burden to any of you as we preached God’s Good News to you. 10 You yourselves are our witnesses—and so is God—that we were devout and honest and faultless toward all of you believers. 11 And you know that we treated each of you as a father treats his own children. 12 We pleaded with you, encouraged you, and urged you to live your lives in a way that God would consider worthy. For he called you to share in his Kingdom and glory.
1 Thessalonians 5:11New Living Translation (NLT) - 11 So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.
Romans 15 1-2The Message (MSG) - Those of us who are strong and able in the faith need to step in and lend a hand to those who falter, and not just do what is most convenient for us. Strength is for service, not status. Each one of us needs to look after the good of the people around us, asking ourselves, “How can I help?”