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?
ABOUT THE WRITER
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.