Hope. Endure. Pray. Three critical practices for anyone who bears the name of Jesus. In Romans, Paul is speaking to the church in Rome. Today, we're going to take these three practices and apply them directly to our relationships with our children and the way we parent them.
As a reminder: children are a blessing from God. And parenting is an opportunity not to simply discipline children, but to disciple them for the Lord. There is a difference between indoctrinating and discipling. One involves drilling information into a person, in an attempt to break any belief that opposes to the given view. Discipling is introducing someone to Jesus through instruction and living authentically in worship to Him.
To disciple our children, our three targets this week are critical! Hope. Endure. Pray. Let's dig in to the Word!
Rejoicing in hope, enduring in distress, persisting in prayer.
Romans 12:12 TLV
Rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer.
Romans 12:12 NKJV
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
Romans 12:12 NIV
rejoicing in hope.
Have you ever met someone so full of hope, that their joy is purely contagious? What about someone whose despair has driven them into a dark place, where rejoicing seems impossible? How did being in their presence feel?
As adults, we have a choice. We can be a light, even in the midst of dark despair. We can walk through trauma and grief and hard with a loved one, without allowing it to despair us. But it isn't easy.
We have been walking through some challenges with behaviors and health recently. One day, I sunk into a chair at the table and let out a deep sigh. I didn't yell, or scream, or say anything unkind. But I slumped, temporarily choosing despair over hope. And my children noticed.
"What's wrong, Momma?" "Come on, guys, let's get cleaned up so Momma doesn't have to." "Do you need a tissue?" My kiddos, each of them sympathetic towards their sighing Momma, had picked up on my hopelessness. And it shifted the dynamic of our home. My previously giggling tribe of kiddos were suddenly concerned and quite serious.
Friends, I wrote here about how it is okay to have hard days. And even seasons. It's good to teach our children to be sympathetic. But we must guard against hopelessness. Not only for ourselves, but for our children. Hope deferred makes the heart sick (Proverbs 13:6). It isn't wisdom for our minds, bodies, souls, or spirits to remain in a place of despair.
In the midst of seasons of heartache, hope can feel distant. There is no hope in people or circumstances that will not be disappointed. However, we can place our hope firmly in Jesus:
God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.
enduring in distress.
This tags well of the last point because, let's face it, enduring is made possible by hope! When we have placed our hope on the unfailing, unending, immeasurable love of Jesus Christ, we can endure.
Jesus didn't promise His followers a life of ease. On the contrary, He promised us trials and tribulations. But He also promised He would never leave nor forsake us. In the midst of every trial, He is there. And while it may not feel like God could possibly be present in the face of tribulations, He is.
Jesus' work of love for us didn't end on the cross. Or at the empty tomb. Or even in His exhortation to the disciples before His ascension. He is currently, at this very moment, making intercession for us at the right hand of Father God. Every distressing situation we face is being actively covered in intercession by our Savior, because He loves us.
We can never underestimate the importance of this is our parenting. Both in our ability to press on through the distress that accompany parenting children through challenging circumstances - and in our ability to walk in endurance (faithfulness) as a fruit of the spirit! With that in mind, I would like to encourage you that this isn't about straining through - it's about surrendering to trusting Him.
If you are weary, take heart. This isn't a demand for you to fix it by enduring pain alone. It is encouragement to hope in the only One who never fails, and then to allow His Spirit to bear through you the fruit of endurance. It's this paradox of enduring by surrendering.
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persistent in prayer.
Pray. Pray with your kids, for your kids, about your kids. Pray for your spouse, for your marriage, for yourself. Most of all pray God's Word, pray His promises, pray His truths.
Our prayers matter. They are literally communication with our Heavenly Father who loves us. Prayers focus our mind on Him and make much of our God, as opposed to making much of our circumstances.
I once heard, "Prayer is taking things before the throne of God and leaving them there. If you walk away from your time of prayer still carrying the same burdens, you weren't praying, you were complaining." Ouch.
I know there have been so many times where I have taken things to God, only to take them back. As if I could somehow handle any situation better than the Creator of the Universe! If there's anything we can do right this moment to be the parents God desires us to be, it's to pray with an earnest and contrite heart!
to parents of kids from hard places.
Even as I wrote this, I thought about a season when I questioned the truths of what I've written. We were battling some intense attachment issues, constant behaviors, 24/7 line of sight supervision. There were days in those trenches where I doubted that God could possibly be FOR us, let alone WITH us. It was lonely, terrifying, and full of despair.
I learned, even in those trenches, about His faithfulness. I learned that our God is big enough to handle our doubts. He is not swayed by our disbelief. It doesn't change Him. But it does change us. And if we are not vigilant, it can harden our hearts to the gentle prompting of Holy Spirit to draw close to our Source of strength, hope, and love.
If I can pray about something specific, please feel free to comment here, or send me an email. I would be honored to join with you in prayer, and encourage you with the hope He has encouraged our family with!
Are any of these areas personal strengths of yours? Are any areas of struggle? How can you be purposeful about hoping, enduring, and praying this coming week? If you haven't signed up for our Guided By Scripture Parenting Challenge yet, you can click here to receive weekly e-mails with prayer targets, scriptures, and a printable 5x7 of that week's memory verse!
Here you will find the musings of a homeschooling, work from home, adoptive Momma of 7! Adventures in faith, family, adoption, and training up a tribe to follow hard after Jesus are spilled into these posts --- most often written with a cup of coffee in hand. I hope you'll stick around a while and find something - more likely SOMEONE! - that brings you hope!
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