Thursday, September 4, 2008

Thoughtful Thursday: The Hardest Hurt of All

The theme of this chapter is that raising children teaches us to value character and service over comfort. I think this chapter is particularly applicable is today's world where parents frantically work to spare their children any stress or pain. I love this excerpt from a letter Abigail Adams wrote to her nine-year-old son when he was having second thoughts about going on an overseas trip with his father. She wrote:

It is not in the still calm of life ... that great characters are formed. The
habits of a vigorous mind are formed in contending with difficulties. Great
necessities call out great virtues. When a mind is raised, and animated by
scenes that engage the heart, then those qualities which would otherwise lay
dormant, wake into life and form the character of the hero and the statesman.

Abigail's son, John Quincy Adams, later became president of the United States.
It is natural for us to want to make life as easy as possible for our children. In doing so, we oftentimes cause them to miss character-building experiences. The main goal of our parenting is praying, working and striving for our children's salvation and that they will become servants of God. If our children never experience emptiness, they will never appreciate their need for God and salvation through Jesus Christ. If our children never hurt, sin or fail, they will never sense their need for a savior and ultimately, they may face God's wrath because of it. See I Samuel 2:25. As parent's, we must accept this important truth: God's kingdom far outweighs the personal comfort of my children.
The honest truth is that by seeking to spare our children from suffering, we are ultimately trying to spare ourselves the hurt of seeing them hurt. With God as our model parent, who allowed his own son to suffer death on the cross, we can certainly expect times when we will have to watch our own children suffer for the greater good. But, God in his goodness promises that suffering is not the end of the story. By suffering and facing hardships, our children will become strong individuals who can make a difference in the world.
Practical application:
(1) I need to develop the courage to allow my children to face some difficulties and even suffering.
(2) Do my kids see me and my husband spending our time and effort focusing on something bigger than ourselves, even bigger than our family?
(3) I need to teach my kids to use challenges, failure, rejection and pain to fuel their sense of mission and to foster their dependence on God.
A parting Word: "We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope." Romans 5:3.

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