With my first two pregnancies, I experienced morning sickness for the first few months. About the fourth month, I would start to feel better. However, the nausea seemed to hang on with my third pregnancy. It was different. I was ill 24/7 and with an eight year old and six year old at home, I couldn’t even make toast without feeling queasy.
While my husband was busy with seminary and working full-time, I spent hours laying in bed as the girls played. He fixed meals when he was home, but the rest of the time, they were pretty much on their own and getting quite good at putting peanut butter and jelly sandwiches together.
As hours, days, and months passed by, my six-year-old Sarah started coming to my bedside. She rubbed lotion on my arms and put a wet washcloth on my head, wiping my face with its coolness. Sometimes she brushed my hair. Others times she stood by my bed and held my hand, saying sweet childlike prayers over me. Other times, Sarah brought me saltine crackers and Pepsi. Faithfully, she checked on me throughout the long days and evenings.
I felt guilty that at her young age, she was the one taking care of me. I was supposed to be the one caring for her. Yet, I was grateful for her gentle touch to help me through the endless hours of feeling sick. It’s amazing how her small hands helped to bring relief to me during these days of queasiness.
Gentleness is Powerful
Thinking back to Sarah’s tender care, I realize that gentleness is powerful. So much so, that even expressed through tiny fingers, it can interrupt long hours of feeling miserable with cherished moments of compassion.
Still gentleness is often overlooked in today’s culture. We’re told to be tough, assertive, and independent. These responses are considered strong and powerful. Yet when looking in Scripture, I find that gentleness, a fruit of the Spirit, is a potent force.
In Proverbs 15:1 it says, "a gentle answer turns away wrath," which indicates that a shouting match, debating, or arguing may not be the most effective way to communicate when confronted with anger. Rather a gentle response may be the approach that can spar an emotion as strong as wrath and win. It seems like a mismatch when it comes to wrath versus gentleness. But what is considered weak by today’s standard is more powerful than the strongest of emotions. It turns my thoughts to 1 Corinthians 1:27, which says, "God selected … what the world calls weak to put the strong to shame."
Gentleness is Life
Gentleness’s power in speech is further pointed out in Proverbs 15:4 which states, "A gentle tongue [with its healing power] is a tree of life." It seems that along with a gentle touch, a gentle word also brings life.
I’ve seen gentleness’s power to inspire life on the face of a grouchy store clerk when greeted with a smile and a friendly, "Hi." I’ve also noticed the spark of life it creates in the eyes of residents in a nursing home when given a warm word. A gentle comment has the ability to touch a person’s moment, hour, and even day with life.
It seems wherever gentleness is expressed, it has the power to bring life and healing. This shouldn’t be a surprise. Jesus tells us in Matthew 11:29 that He is gentle, while John 1:4 tells us that "in Him was life."
I’m coming to realize that a gentle touch or word from me is more than just a gracious act. It’s presenting Christ’s life to those I care about and come in contact with each day. And it doesn’t have to be some grandiose deed or feat, but something as simple as the childlike care I experienced firsthand from my daughter Sarah, at age six.