One of my favourite things to do is sit at my sewing machine and work on a new article of clothing while listening to a podcast. My sewing area is outside so I get a little bit of a breeze and if I get a full twenty minutes of uninterrupted work, I am in heaven!
Today, I listened to a speaker talk about suffering and what it means to follow Jesus. It’s something that is near to my heart at the moment as I am praying through how to disciple my kids in a way that God is real to them. I want them to understand from a young age about what it really means to follow Christ.
I’ve been listening to a lot of teachings on suffering and it’s the first thing I want to share with my children – following Jesus does not mean that you will never suffer. It doesn’t mean that bad things will never happen to you. The Bible even goes so far as to say that we should consider it pure JOY when we face suffering. It might seem a little doom and gloom to teach this to a first grader and kindergartener and of course I will point them to the truth that God is always with us and promises that He will never leave us but I think it’s really important for kids and young Christians to know that life will not be smooth sailing once you decide to follow Jesus.
It kind of reminds me of marriage in some ways. It does young people absolutely no good to extol the virtues of marriage without ALSO telling them how hard it will be. I’ve witnessed this too many times and our culture is literally saturated with false expectations of love. I listened to a lyric this week in a pop song (we’re so out of the loop here culturally I have no idea who actually sings it! haha) that basically said that the love interest was going to save the person’s life. Yikes! No wonder so many young men & women are sorely disappointed once they get back from the honeymoon and real life sets in. And we do it in the church too. We talk about the excitement of the wedding and about where the couple wants to honeymoon and we might slip in a “Marriage takes work” but do we really get into the nitty gritty? Young people…get thee to a mentor!! This should be a prerequisite to getting married! Older couples….be available! Be honest; share the wonderful things about marriage but don’t, please don’t, leave out the hardships. They will come and if all we ever talk about are the advantages….our young people will think there is something very wrong when the storm hits.
The same principle applies to following Jesus. We have to be honest and real and hopefully our honesty will prepare our young people for the times when suddenly following Jesus isn’t so easy and there are things happening in their lives that are difficult and painful.
I had to learn this myself recently as I walked through a period of hardship where I just didn’t understand what God was trying to tell me. My thought was that something was obviously very wrong if we were experiencing such hardship. I invented all sorts of problems in my mind before God finally said “I told you you would endure trials. There doesn’t have to be anything wrong. You just need to turn to me and learn to rest in me.”
As per my last post, I have a hard time “resting”. I like to tackle problems. I am a list-making, google-searching, article-reading problem tackler. And God has been telling me to stop. Stop and seek Him. Stop and rest.
I’m looking forward to talking about some of these things with my kids this week. It’s a big responsibility to disciple our children in a way that makes them want to know more about Jesus and to stick with this thing throughout their lives.