From A Charles Dickens Devotional
“You must be tired, sir,” said he as he placed a chair near the fire, “how can I thank you?”
“By taking more care of your grandchild . . . , my good friend,” I replied.
“More care!” said the old man in a shrill voice, “more care of Nelly! . . .”
He said this with such evident surprise that I was perplexed what answer to make . . . “I don’t think you consider—” I began.
“I don’t consider!” cried the old man interrupting me, “I don’t consider her! Ah, how little you know of the truth!” . . .
While we were sitting thus, . . . the door of the closet opened, and the child returned, . . . She busied herself immediately in preparing supper, and . . . I was surprised to see that . . . everything was done by the child, and that there appeared to be no other persons but ourselves in the house. I took advantage of a moment when she was absent to venture a hint on this point, to which the old man replied that there were few grown persons as trustworthy or as careful as she.
“It always grieves me,” I observed, . . . “to contemplate the initiation of children into the ways of life, when they are scarcely more than infants. It checks their confidence and simplicity—two of the best qualities that Heaven gives them—and demands that they share our sorrows before they are capable of entering into our enjoyments.”
—The Old Curiosity Shop
Little Nell, a child not yet fourteen years of age, was forced to grow up too soon while caring for her grandfather, the owner of the Old Curiosity Shop. Not only did she care for the old man day and night, but Nell was forced to live with him as a pauper in the streets of London after a bad debt cost the grandfather his shop. Nell’s story is a sad one and a prime example of Victorian sentimentality in the literature of Dickens’s time.
When we read what Dickens says about a child’s confidence and simplicity being taken away too soon, we might be reminded of what Jesus said in Matthew 18:3–4: “Unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
Jesus recognized the pure simplicity and innocence of a child’s faith, untarnished by the issues of adulthood. He warned us against allowing our straightforward faith in God to be commandeered by the world. Has your faith been compromised by worldly demands, or is it rooted in childlike humility? Remember, it is always possible for you to approach God with the unwavering faith of a child.
“I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.” - Luke 10:21 niv
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