The Tenderness of Deity
"If we would become conscious of God's tenderness, we must practice tenderness"
Tenderness is an essential quality of Love. Without tenderness, Love would be unexpressed. Love is firm, constant, loyal, unvarying; but to be Love, it must always be tender.
God, divine Love, is the source and Principle of all true love and, therefore, of all tenderness. All the love and tenderness we meet with in our daily lives have their origin in Deity, for divine Love is ineffably tender, far more tender than anything we can conceive of with our present limited human sense. The Bible reminds us of God's great goodness, of His loving-kindnesses and tender mercies, and of the abiding fact that "his mercy endureth for ever" (Ps. 106:1).
Tenderness is not something that God turns on and off or that radiates in some directions and not in others: it is an infinite, ever-present quality which He abundantly bestows on His universal family. As the Psalmist gratefully sang (Ps. 145:9), "His tender mercies are over all his works," and His works include each one of us as His individual image, or child, cared for in His immutable tenderness.
Now since this tenderness is ever present and all-encompassing, there is in the real universe of God's creating no place or opportunity for discord of any kind, no home for harshness or cruelty or injustice, no room for sin, sickness, or death. These are only the illusions of the material senses, which deceive mortals into believing in the reality of the opposite of God. But if we persistently and trustingly declare and progressively understand the ever-presence and all-power of infinite Love and its unvarying tenderness, these errors will gradually disappear from our experience.
It is not enough to acquire the letter of Christian Science or to be able to rehearse the truths expressed in the Scriptures and in Mrs. Eddy's writings; we ourselves must in some degree feel and live the love through which those truths came to be revealed, or we lose sight of the life and power which accompany and demonstrate them. And we can feel and live this love only by acknowledging, and in increasing measure demonstrating, man's reflection of divine Love, which is the only real Father and Mother of each one of us.
If we would become conscious of God's tenderness, we must practice tenderness in our everyday living; we must draw tenderness from its ever-present, neverfailing source and radiate it in all our individual contacts—in our homes and churches, in our offices, classrooms, and factories, in our streets and fields, and in the air and on the open sea. The prophet foretold this of the Messiah: "A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench" (Isa. 42:3).
The true Messiah, or Christ, the manifestation of divine Love, knows nothing of racial or class divisions, but comes with impartial tenderness to every receptive heart; and in his unparalleled demonstration of the Christ, Jesus practiced and proved this tenderness in every detail of his human life.
We must follow Christ Jesus' example in all the fullness of his wonderful life. Though he was always quick and fearless to rebuke sin whenever it presented itself, yet anyone who came to him in distress or doubt called forth his compassion and became the object of his tender attention.
This tenderness is not weakness; on the contrary, it goes hand in hand with strength. The truly strong are always tender: it is a sign of weakness to be rough or harsh. To practice tenderness as Jesus practiced it is to possess a strength far greater than any so-called strength imparted by human will; it is to reflect the very might of omnipotent Deity.
Following Jesus' example involves not only a loving approach to all whom we meet and all who come to our thought, but the positive healing of the sick and the sorrowful. We are not following in his footsteps unless we are comforting the burdened and healing the diseased. He expected the seventy whom he sent out, as well as his chosen disciples, to heal the sick as part of their preaching of the gospel, or good news, of the kingdom. And the commandment he gave to the twelve and to the seventy to heal the sick, he left for all his followers in succeeding generations.
But Mrs. Eddy makes it quite clear that before we can do this, we must first learn to prove our love for our neighbor in the tender consolation of the sorrowing. In Science and Health, under the marginal heading "Genuine healing," she writes, "If we would open their prison doors for the sick, we must first learn to bind up the broken-hearted" (pp. 366, 367). And then she goes on to speak of the next step: proving our love for our neighbor in the healing of the sick. "The tender word," she adds, "and Christian encouragement of an invalid, pitiful patience with his fears and the removal of them, are better than hecatombs of gushing theories, stereotyped borrowed speeches, and the doling of arguments, which are but so many parodies on legitimate Christian Science, aflame with divine Love."
This tenderness of Deity, made manifest in all our contacts with our fellowmen, is ever with us to be claimed, felt, and enjoyed. One who feels separated or shut out from the warmth and tenderness of divine Love may be encouraged to be of good cheer, for all the love he has ever given out, and all the love he has ever met with in return, are with him at this moment, and more, infinitely more, for God, divine Love, their source, is infinite and never withholds His tender mercies from any one of His children. As we can declare, in the words of David (I Chron. 29:11), "Thine, O Lord, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty," so we can also declare, "Thine, O Lord, is the tenderness."