Recently, while I was out jogging, I listened to a recorded conversation between a 9-year-old son and his father. Rain poured down on me, but my eyes were even wetter from tears. The father told his son of the immense joy he felt on the day of the boy’s birth when the doctor had handed him his son for the first time. He also shared the concern he harbored that day: “You know, [I felt] fear . . . I gotta bring up a black boy in Mississippi, which is a tough place to bring up kids . . . there are statistics that say black boys born after the year 2002 have a 1-in-3 chance of going to prison.” Then he added these sobering words: “All three of my sons were born after the year 2002.”

But the conversation didn’t stay somber. There was laughter and love was evident. Albert’s way with his son gave me hope for how a father’s courageous love can nurture a boy into manhood, helping him become a strong, good man. At one point in the conversation, the boy said to his father, “Dad, are you proud of me?”

Isn’t that the question many of us ask our heavenly Father? We long to hear words of affirmation, delight, and belonging. The boy’s father poured out love on his son with his words.

The Scriptures affirm over and again God’s love for us. Indeed, one of Jesus’ central declarations was that “God so loved . . .” (John 3:16 NIV). John encourages us to “see how very much our Father loves us” and assures us that we are the objects of God’s care and delight, because of the simple reason that “[God] calls us his children” (1 John 3:1).

Whatever else may be true, whatever ways we need healing or forgiveness amid our brokenness, this truth undergirds us: God loves us and is proud to call us His children (1 John 3:2).

NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: Joshua 3:1-17