…happens so rarely.
I wish it did. We pray for success after all. Well, at least very few of us pray for failure.
But if we were to be honest, we seek God more intensely in the hardest moments of life. Although I wish it was different, I know I’ve grown the most when I’ve experienced the greatest setbacks, suffering or pain. God has shaped me profoundly in those moments, as I’m sure he has you.
Which makes it all the more surprising then that we try to shield our kids from these moments.
When a grandparent dies, a bully shows up in the school yard or the report cards disappoints, something inside of us tries to come up with an easy answer for our kids that would shield them from the pain of the moment. So we say things like “maybe they needed grandma in heaven more than we needed her here.” Or “well that bully just doesn’t know what he’s talking about.” Or “There must be a reason. Ask God to fill you with joy.” We try to ease the pain with simple answers. Maybe even mask it.
I can’t tell you the number of conversations I’ve had with teens and adults who are still reeling from the simple answers someone gave them along the way. Difficult circumstances always impact our faith. We call them pivotal circumstances for a reason: our faith either pivots away from God or we turn into him hard. In the end, those simplistic answers didn’t help them gain faith. Instead they helped them lose it.
Sometimes I wonder if one of the best things we can do with the pain of life is not to shield our kids from it – after all, they already feel it – but to embrace it in the presence of God.
It’s actually fine to cling to a Saviour and not to an explanation.
It is very possible to pray without having an answer or clarity on an issue.
We even appear to have a God who seems fine with a bit of ambiguity. He embraced it quite willingly in the strange epic of the cross.
Maybe when you embrace the complexity of what your child or your family is going through…and show them that there are times when you don’t understand and you can’t figure it out and yet there is a trust and a relationship that keeps you coming back again and again…you give them a front row seat to the grace of God.
If we really want to protect the faith of our kids, maybe we’ll authentically embrace the moment and God more and the simplistic answer less.
What do you think? When have you found God in the pain and in what ways do you think your child might be able to see true grace in a similar circumstance?