Today is a normal day of parenting. The two year old is screaming in the background as you’re trying to cook supper for the hungry horde. Your teenager wears a scowl because you removed texting privileges after hearing about an inappropriate exchange. And, once again, the six-year-old left the back door open. You know this because there are now eight ferocious mosquitoes buzzing around the baby’s head.
Why do you put yourself through this? Many of us chose to have children. Yes, ultimately, God is sovereign in the opening and shutting of the womb. But we make decisions that affect our rate of reproduction. And we then decide to raise the children to whom we give birth or whom we adopt.
Every day of parenting, you make sacrifices. The career choices you make are far different once you have children. Your free time disappears. Instead of hanging out with old friends, you’re at a park trying to convince a toddler not to eat the dog poop. Your shopping trips consist of hunting aisles for the right diaper cream or scavenging garage sales for six different sizes of jeans. Sleep? When? For the first year of your child’s life (and sometimes the first two years), you’ll be lucky if the bags under your eyes don’t cover your cheeks. And when you’re ready to breathe a sigh of relief that your child can wipe his own butt, you discover he has a penchant for shoplifting. What?
If you ever had illusions about the basic goodness of mankind, parenting will crush them.
Don’t worry. Those illusions need to be crushed.
We are all in need of a Savior. Our children as much as ourselves, angelic as they may appear at 3 months old. I’ve only just begun the adventure of parenting, and already I find myself frequently on my knees begging for God’s help to know what to do next.
Why DO we persevere in parenting?
My opinions about parenting do not matter in the least. But God’s do. Here is what the Bible says about parenting. (Verses quoted from the English Standard Version.)
God has entrusted to parents the task of teaching the next generation to hope in Him.
“I will open my mouth in a parable… things that we have heard and known, that our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done. He…commanded our fathers to teach…their children, that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments…” Psalm 78:2-7 (Italics mine.)
Our diligence in parenting has eternal consequences.
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise…” Deuteronomy 6:4-9
“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6
Each person is required to give his own account to the Lord on the Day of Judgement (Mt. 12:36, etc.). But godly parents are teachers God sends to children to help prepare them for that day. Think of Paul’s letter to Timothy, in which he refers to his mother and grandmother:
“I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well…” II Timothy 1:5
Children are a reward given to us by the Lord Himself.
“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.” Psalm 127:3-5
“Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth.” Psalm 127:4 (And quoting this verse does not put me into the “Quiverful” camp, in case you’re wondering.)
“The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice; he who fathers a wise son will be glad in him.” Proverbs 23:24
We should not see our children as hindrances but as blessings and gifts from God!
We can learn from our own children about how to approach God.
‘At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven…”‘ Matthew 18:1-4
“See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 18:10
The challenges of parenting lead us to greater trust in God.
By far, the greatest challenge in parenting is that of discipline. Proverbs 19:18-19 says:
“Discipline your son, for there is hope; do not set your heart on putting him to death.”
Eph. 6:4 gives some extra help with what that should look like: “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” (Loving discipline is key; not angry, potentially unjust punishment.)
Paul adds in Colossians 3:21: “Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.”
So, we know that discipline is vital. And we know that our attitudes as we approach discipline should be patient and kind, not exasperated and exasperating. But beyond some proverbs about the use of the rod, and the admonishments about not provoking children to anger (plus a note about the pain of discipline in Hebrews 12), the Bible isn’t clear about what child training should look like each day in your home. We are given some latitude to lovingly train different personalities in different ways, as necessary. This lack of a step-by-step child training manual in the Bible means that we must turn to God each day and beg Him for wisdom, mercy, and grace.
Perseverance in parenting isn’t optional.
Perseverance in parenting is required of us. We are stewards of the precious children God has entrusted to our care. Laziness, frustration, and selfishness might nip at our heels. But we need to “fight the good fight of faith” and be faithful stewards. (Pardon the mixed metaphors. I’m referring to various Scriptures.) 🙂 And we can trust that God will enable us to do the good work He has prepared for us to do. (Eph. 2:10, Php. 1:6, 4:13)
“Your life is short, your duties many, your assistance great, and your reward sure; therefore faint not, hold on and hold up, in ways of well-doing, and heaven shall make amends for all.”
Share this quote on Instagram or Facebook by saving and sharing the picture below! What are some other verses from Scripture that encourage you to persevere in the task of parenting? (Not just surviving, but “doing well.”)
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