Waking up early in the morning is nothing new for me. I love the early hours when the night is quiet and I can drink my coffee before the chaos and responsibility of the day begin.

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Bills to pay.
Letters to write.
Parties to plan.
Case Studies to review.

The piles on my desk are deep. Enough work to keep me busy 24/7 for several weeks over.

But I can’t concentrate. I can’t seem to pick up my pen. My heart, accustomed to feeling pain, a veteran to seeing human suffering, is grieving.

She’s just 7 years old. She slapped my special needs child in the face. Not once. Twice. That was two days ago. This morning, I took her aside. Why, I asked, gently. Why would you do that?

Her eyes were wide and hid nothing. There was Fear. There was Anger. There was Hate. There was Brokenness that I didn’t fully understand.

It took only a few minutes of questions and her stories tumbled out, tripping over each other. Stories of horrific abuse and neglect that would bring the biggest man to his knees.

And she was left to bear the burden of the pain and abuse of three younger siblings. Her own fears and needs and even injuries, pushed to the side. The littlest one literally dying in her arms.

In the end, we went upstairs to see her little brother. They’ve been with us for one month now and she has never asked if he lived or died. We didn’t know at first if he could recover. But God is faithful and we managed his malnutrition well.

We came in the room and both caught their breath and reached out for each other. Tears streamed down her little face and he lay his head on her shoulder. A little shoulder that has borne more weight than should ever be allowed.

I held her a long time and told her she was safe. I told her some day her heart would heal and that for now, she could be confident that no one would ever hurt her like that again. Her stiff body melted into my arms and I prayed silently.

Oh, may we be reminded how precious children are. May we remember how close to the heart of God they are and how much of a privilege it is to be a parent, a grandparent, a caregiver, a teacher, or anyone who touches the lives of a child. May we always go the extra mile for that little one.

Lord, grant us patience, love, and gentleness for the children in our lives. Let us see them as you do. Let us bring healing, light, and love into their lives.

Suffer the little children to come unto me. And forbid them not. For such is the kingdom of heaven.