Train them to SUFFER well…
The most difficult task of any parent (if you ask me) is teaching a child to suffer well. I know that I do not want to have to teach my children to “suffer” well. My first instinct is to protect my children from suffering at all. What I must realize is that suffering is essential if they are going to know and understand God’s goodness and His faithfulness. None of us grow during our mountain top experiences with God, our growing happens while we are in the valley. We grow as we encounter difficulty, adversity, pain and disappointment. Those moments in life catapult us into the arms of our loving Savior, where we find understanding, refuge and rest. This all sound fantastic when talking about adults and their walk with God. As most of you know…children are precious to me. Not just my own, the 5 beautiful and incredible blessings God has entrusted to me but all children. I see innocence in them, I see vulnerability and I see JESUS. I see trust, hope and love in their eyes. The world so untainted, dreams so real, futures so bright…precious little lives in need of saving. So for me to learn the concept of teaching my children (predominantly franky since he is the oldest) to suffer well has been quite a journey.
Today my son came home upset that he had been called “gay” at school by another class mate. Franky had already asked me to change him from school because he did not want to be around kids that cursed all the time. Franky is a child…foolish like every other but he has been trained. Trained to love others, to respect them and to help them. He is untainted by the harsh world we live in. He is not bitter or angry like a lot of kids I know his age. He doesn’t carry a chip in his shoulder and honestly he is very naive. I love naive. As Dr.John MacArthur puts it.. children MUST be protected from all the inappropriate things in our culture. So YES, my son is being raised in a glass house! 🙂 Not the kind where you don’t know the outside world exists but the kind that protects him from what we can and explains th rest to him from a biblical standpoint so he can understand and learn to make wise choices. I am going to go to the school and deal with the situation but in the midst of it all God has taught me that I need to teach him how to suffer well. This walk is a lonely walk at times. It is a crawl at others. This is not the last time he will be made fun of for his integrity, or laughed at for his beliefs so teaching my son that this is very common and taking him to the Word was imperative. I sat down with him tonight and explained to him that Jesus was persecuted and laughed at, he was mocked and eventually crucified by the very people he came to save so we can’t expect any less. I explained to him that the only thing that matters is what God says in His word and WHO God says he is. A warrior, prince…son of the King, fearfully and wonderfully made. Encouraged him to draw near to God and lean on His strength but not to expect this to be the last time something like this happens. I quoted Jesus when He said that the world has hated Him so they will hate us also. I asked him to pray for the other kids and to be fearless in proclaiming Christ and his faith. Gave him some examples in the word of the apostles who endured much for the sake of Christ.
Franky is not the kind of kid to go with the flow. Saying that makes me smile because I am very much the same way. He will stand up for what’s right and is not afraid to do so. He was upset but it didn’t rock him. He has a strong foundation in Christ and a strong sense of who he is and how much he is loved. To be quite honest he wasn’t as upset as I was! And it was such a blessing to see that I have taught him well. I forget sometimes…Seeing him deal with adversity in such a gracious way reminded me that I have taught him since he was little that his value is not in what anyone says he is but WHO God says he is. See, I expected for franky to fall apart ( as many kids do today)when faced such cruelty but I underestimated both God and him. Franky is able to separate himself from others and even though he is still a child and things like that hurt, they have no effect deep inside, he knows he is a child of God and he understands how lost his class mates are and is genuinely concerned about their eternal destination. He weeps because his biological father is not saved and he doesn’t want him to go to hell. He is a child who truly understands the fear of the Lord. Parenting him has taught me so many things! From grace to fearing the Lord…how amazing it has been to see him grow and to be a part of what the Lord is doing in his life and the kind of young man He is turning him into. I am so thankful! Teaching to suffer well will enable them to stand when faced with adversity…wonder why today’s children fall apart at harsh words and they cave in to peer pressure? They are not being taught to suffer well. They expect candy canes and lollipops and don’t know what to do when someone rains on their parade! We are crippling our children instead of equipping them.
He is the kid that volunteers to the trash out in school, not worried about being/doing the great things but to simply help. He has a beautiful heart and thus why he gets picked on. He is different, this is evident and glorious! I love different. I love to see his love for Christ and his eagerness to do good and to help others. We must teach our kids that we wont be able to remove them from very situation that would hurt them (emotionally) but we can equip them to walk through it and come out closer to the Lord and wiser as a consequence. We must teach them to embrace pain as part of life…it is normal and instead of running from it or worse…not giving them tools at all to deal with pain they will end up self medicating with drugs, alcohol, food, porn etc. That is what our society doesn;t understand..christian parents don’t understand that they do not equip their children to suffer well and how to work through pain they WILL learn to self medicate. Anything to make the uncomfortable pain go away. Why? Because no one taught them that it is ok to hurt. It happens. What you do with that pain is what will define how strong you will be.
We as parents are not equipping our children to embrace pain as a normal process of life and teaching our children how to deal with it so when they hurt they are baffled…they don’t understand why they should hurt to begin with and they run as fast as they can to whatever feels good. We must not let our society dictate how out children handle disappointment, we must teach them to rise above it and hold on to Christ for dear life! He is the only answer, He is the only savior. Teach your children pain is normal and walk them through it…don’t teach them to run from pain/disappointment instead teach them to embrace it and to learn the lesson God is wanting to teach them through it. God may just have some character to develop in your young ones. Character is not developed when everything is peachy but is developed in the darkest hours…when our only friend and hope is Jesus. In order to develop integrity and character we must have walked through some valleys my sweet friends. Don’t rob your young ones from the awesome experience of seeing God at work. It’s their walk…yes they are to be discipled and protected but they are also to be taught how to live life and work through issues so later on they aren’t sitting in a counselors office trying to get their lives together. 🙂 Teach them how to live life…the good and the bad. Teach them that God turns mourning into dancing and sorrow into joy even when they can;t see it. Teach them they can trust God because He loves them more than you do.
Even when they can’t see His hand they can trust His heart. God is trustworthy! If we put these biblical principles to pratice we can change the next generation…by raising a holy people that will fear and love the Lord.