Do you remember the first time you saw your baby smile?
Recently, I participated in Scrappin’ at the Holler (shout out to Long Hollow women’s new ministry outreach that meets monthly to scrapbook). I was working on my second child’s baby album. He’s three-and-a-half, and I’m a little behind!
Seeing those pictures, I was taken back to the “first week gas grins” that were full of gums. My husband and I were so proud to see his smiles! Even though we knew deep down that it wasn’t his evidence of his joy in us, we were really happy to see him happy!
Isn’t that true of us as parents? We love to see our children happy. To see them smile. To see them content and joyful. Those are the great days as a parent.
But, I want to challenge myself—and all of you—to celebrate the days where our children suffer and demonstrate strength in the suffering. Days where the circumstances of this life don’t dictate their ultimate contentment.
Lately, in my quiet time, the Holy Spirit has been teaching me a lot about suffering. It’s odd, really, because life is pretty calm right now! I’m thinking, “What are you preparing me for, Lord?”
And in all of that, I’ve heard His quiet voice saying, “Teach your children to endure suffering.”
Yay. Task number 1,167 of parenting. Oh, joy.
In all seriousness, the world teaches us to view difficulties as bad and to be avoided. We tend to complain and look for ways out. We have a strong propensity to focus on circumstances when we are walking in the flesh. And, our children do the same.
But, when we remember Christ, we are reminded of His suffering. After all, knowing what was ahead, he accepted the cross and all the personal hardship it would bring (Matthew 26:39, Mark 14:36, Luke 22:42). Christ does not teach that following Him will result in comforts in this life.
Instead, he teaches,
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.
(Matthew 5:10-11). As Paul said,
3Not only so, but wealso glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4perseverance, character; and character, hope.
So, it makes sense that we should actively look for ways to allow our children to experience suffering. After all, if they encounter suffering, it must be that God has allowed it, although He would not cause it (Job 1:9-12). We should refrain from fixing every difficult circumstance so that we can have opportunity to evaluate their perseverance. After all, how else do we build the character that can withstand the trials of this world while honoring and glorifying God as they fulfill the Great Commission?
As a parent, seeing evidence of this characteristic in my children will make me smile a satisfying smile.
We want to hear from you: What can we do to model and teach our kids to endure suffering?