“In a desert land he found him, in a barren and howling waste. He shielded him and cared for him; he guarded him as the apple of his eye” (Deuteronomy 32:10).

Brother Lawrence, as many other saints, had a strong sense of his own sinfulness. He writes, “I regard myself as the most wretched of all men ragged with sores…guilty of all manner of crimes against God.” Did this acute sense of guilt create a depressing drag on his spiritual life? No, instead he saw the glory and brightness of God. He was eloquent in his praise and rejoicing. Brother Lawrence writes, “Touched by a live repentance, I confess all my evil deeds to him, I implore his pardon, and give myself over to his hands to do with me what he will. This king, full of goodness and mercy, far from chastening me, embraces me lovingly, makes me eat at his table, serves me with his own hands, gives me the keys to his pleasures and treats me just as if I were his favorite.” When a child feels like a parent’s favorite, it’s like super growth food for his or her sense of identity. Wise parents do everything they can to make each child feel like the favorite. God does the same. “Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden” (Matthew 11:28). In all our failures and spiritual malaise, God reaches out to us. Brother Lawrence put all that together, seeing himself as “ever more weak and wretched, yet more cherished by God.” Paul, St. Francis and Brother Lawrence all had an extraordinary awareness of their failures and an extraordinary joy in the Holy Spirit. However anxious or guilty or depressed you may feel, think of yourself as God’s favorite!

Adapted from “The One Year Book of Encouragement”