By Lauren Maggs.
“Mommy, today was so hard!”
Our hearts break when we know our children are suffering. While we wish that we could simply make all the hard things disappear, we know that that is not how life works.
We know that the Christian life requires of us that we take up our cross daily and follow Jesus, enduring the suffering that comes with life in this world, following our master.
23 Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”
How can we help our children understand that trials are not surprise but part of the Christian life? How do we best equip them to turn to Jesus in the midst of trials and not away from him?
1. Help them read the Bible
The Bible gives us a realistic expectation of the Christian life. We should let God’s Word inform our children on what the Christian life looks like. Let them read the Gospels, Acts and letters like 1 Peter to help shape their worldview. 8 and 9 year olds can be reading the Bible for themselves so let’s encourage them to do that. We can help them by getting them a Bible in a easy-to-read translation like the New International Readers Version or the New Living Translation.
2. Be honest about your own trials
We should never put unnecessary burdens on our children by causing them to worry about us. However, God gives our children our lives as an example and a training tool. We should allow our children to watch us live for God during hard times.
Perhaps a good way to employ this is to tell your children about answers to prayer after you have had, after you come through a hard time. That way, they don’t worry that you are not ok but can they still have much evidence of God being at work.
3. Model turning to Jesus in prayer
Allow your children to see and hear you praying when you face a hard time. Show your children that prayer is how to turn to Jesus when things are difficult. When your children come to you when they are facing a hard time, let one of the first things you do with them be prayer.
If they are worried about school – pray with them.
If they are anxious before a sleepover – pray with them.
Make sure that you pray worldview-shaping things for them and with them. Don’t just pray that the hard things will go away. Pray scriptural things for them and shape their long-term thinking about trials.
Here are some of the things we can pray:
- Thank God that trials are not a surprise to Him and thank Him for faithful (1 Peter 4:12 – 19)
- Pray that our trials would produce character, perseverance and hope in us (Romans 5:3 – 5)
- Pray that God would work all things out for His glory and our good (Romans 8:28)
- Pray that we would look forward to the hope that we have as our faith is refined (1 Peter 1:3 – 9)
We cling to the words of 1 Peter 1:3 – 7 and we navigate life in this world, and help our children to do the same:
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed.