The Struggle to Trust God with My Child’s Salvation

May 8, 2013 · 17 comments

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by Lindsey Carlson

Seeing my children struggle with sin makes me squirmy. Whether they’re back-talking during bath time, squabbling with siblings, deceiving, or disobeying, I fear for their future. What if their foolishness or hard-heartedness is only beginning to show? What if they stay dead in sin fooor-evvvv-er?

More than anything, I want my children to know and love Jesus; to turn away from their sin and trust Christ for salvation.

I plead anxiously: “Lord, please help them understand their selfishness. Convict them of their pride. Help them learn to respect our authority so they’ll respect yours!” 

I know God hears my prayers, but sometimes he seems to tarry on answering them my way. If their behavior doesn’t change two seconds after I’ve breathe “Amen” I worry they’re on their way to becoming a sociopath or a murderer. Of course, I’m being dramatic. But I do hope their small-scale struggles aren’t indicators of much bigger and scarier struggles yet to come.

Once during a particularly rough round of marathon time-outs, I sat on the floor holding one of my children in my lap as their tiny toddler body thrashed and screamed. Desperate for a behavioral break-through, with tears streaming down my face, I prayed silently: “Why God? Why is it so hard? What’s going on inside my baby’s heart?” I begged the Lord for an answer that would lighten my load.

Immediately, it was as if the Holy Spirit spoke his peaceful wisdom into the storming sea inside my soul. I was encouraged by the thought that God could reveal himself to my children even in the midst of their tantrums.

The way I hope my kids will come to salvation is quite narrow. I want them to soak in God’s word and truth by osmosis until one pretty spring day while we’re sitting under a big oak tree and enjoying a picnic, their little eyes open to the truths of God.

But God may choose to answer my prayers for my children’s salvation through brokenness and trials. Yet I pray, “Please Lord, not this way! Not through hardship!” It’s a hard reality that sin precedes redemption, and all have fallen short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). This is all the more reason that I must not grow weary of doing good, speaking of and singing the songs of salvation even if it’s through fear and trembling.

If my greatest desire for my children is “Lord, please let them come to faith in you,” then shouldn’t I be willing to trust God to redeem any situation they’re faced with? Am I willing to trust him in the painful times he has purposed for his glory?

God has used my fear and neediness to teach me to depend on him instead of trying to control everything. “Salvation belongs to the Lord” (Ps. 3:8)! God is replacing my fears with hope and faith in his faithfulness and goodness.

Opening Our Hands In Trust

If you’re feeling discouraged in your parenting, impatient in your child’s seemingly endless sin struggle, or disappointed with the Lord’s slowness to answer; don’t lose heart. Keep praying; trust the Lord—salvation belongs to him! Remember that God is patient. “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9). Trust that God is good, and he is willing to let those who are his experience struggles for the sake of their redemption (Rom. 8:20).

Take heart, Mom & Dad. Jesus is sovereign over your children’s salvation. And he faithfully goes after his lost sheep (Luke 15:4), whether they’re in the time-out corner of their preschool class or walking through cancer and chemotherapy. Our Father is more concerned with redeeming our children for his glory than we are.

“Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” Rom. 11:33-34

God does all things for the sake of his great name. Do you trust him?

Lindsey Carlson lives in Houston with her worship-pastor husband and their four active kids (all under age 9). Her home is filled with the sounds of childhood (galloping horses, swashbuckling heroes, and the occasional sibling brawl), the near-constant presence of music in some form, and volumes of great literature, old and new. You can catch her regular reflections on the gospel at Worship Rejoices and follow her on Twitter.


{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kim Shay May 8, 2013 at 2:24 pm

I hear you, Lindsey! No, my kids are no longer toddlers back talking, but their sins are there. It’s equally hard when we know they are there, but can’t see them. Watching some of their choices has made me ask the same question “Why is it so hard?” I thought I had learned to trust God when my children were younger, but I’m seeing how weak my faith can be now that they are grown up! And yet, we place our hope in Him because we know He is faithful!


2 Melissa McDonald May 8, 2013 at 4:23 pm

Thanks Lindsey. I heard David Powlison say one time that the two most important things about your child are ultimately outside your control: whether they live or die and whether they live or die spiritually. It’s so humbling to know that it’s not in our hands. And while that brings relief when we fail, it’s so hard for me to know that I can’t ultimately bring life. And to rest knowing that God is good just like you said: “God does all things for the sake of his great name.”


3 Daphne May 8, 2013 at 5:57 pm

Lindsey, I thank God for the perfect timeliness of your words!


4 Pastor Irvin May 9, 2013 at 6:15 am

We must truly trust God with our children no matter the age, we must operate in faith and understand the things that we see with our physical eyes will more than likely contradict what we are believing God for. God will allow certain things, that may seem uncomfortable just remember God is working behind the scene. Remember the prodigal son (Luke 15) it took a drastic situation for him to recognize the father’s love, that was there all the time. We have six teenagers and a seven year old and all I can say is…I thank God for his grace and I decree that my whole house shall be saved G2G!!!


5 Pastor Irvin May 9, 2013 at 6:20 am

Lindsey, thank you for your words they have truly inspired and motivated me….God bless you.


6 Cynthia May 9, 2013 at 10:46 pm

So I am learning these principles for my parents and siblings. They are not under my control, which is even scarier in a way than with kids. They are out there in the world, able to see God’s design if they will only look, yet they are not trusting Him. It breaks one’s heart when loved ones do not respond as we pray. It is so hard to watch them bring suffering on themselves and yet I recognize God will use it to bring them to Him. Just not my wat in my time. Learning to lean on God and trust Him is a day by day process. Thanks for your words, reminding me of that.


7 Hope Henchey May 10, 2013 at 11:13 pm

This is so encouraging to me!
I’m so glad the LORD gave you that insight when He did!


8 Tim May 11, 2013 at 2:02 am

These are struggles a lot of believing parents go through, Lindsey, and you’ve articulate them so well. Both of my kids are young adults now, and happily have come to faith. But my kids are His kids because of him, not because of me.

The best behaved child – one who submits to the parents’ authority in ways that remind us of our own need to submit to God – that best behaved child is going to hell if they do not belong to Jesus. And a child who struggles in sin – one that parents grieve over and lament – will still spend eternity with Jesus if the child belongs to Christ. Who knows, perhaps the struggle with sin is evidence of the work of the Holy Spirit in the child’s life and without the Spirit the child wouldn’t even bother struggling?

Thanks for helping me think through this today, Lindsey.



9 Jessica May 13, 2013 at 1:13 am

So good! I struggle with this all the time. And your encouragement is greatly appreciated!


10 Sunni March 19, 2014 at 4:30 am

I struggle with trusting God for the salvation of my kids. Mainly because I have found nowhere in scripture that God *promises* to save them. The principle that Proverbs 22:6 gives is not a promise, just a likely outcome. Many people say “trust God with your child’s salvation because he loves them even more than you do” – while this is true, he also loves all the people who end up in hell exactly the same way that he loves my children, so I can’t really hang on to that as comfort. I know, and believe that God is faithful to all his promises, I just don’t have one to hang on to when it comes to the salvation of my children, and I’m really struggling with that.


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