Preparing Our Children for Suffering
My children recently came face to face with death after one of the children at their school passed away.
Although we were not close with the family, I purposefully took my kids to the celebration of life for the young boy. It was one of the most beautiful and moving experiences we’ve had in the past year. It also opened the door to a myriad of spiritual and religious conversations between us. One of those conversations underscored an aspect of Jesus’ passion that is often overlooked: the purpose of suffering.
The cross cleanses us and gives us hope, but it also shows us that there can be purpose in pain and suffering. If Jesus’ death was the objective, then there were so many other ways that could have been accomplished by God. But I believe he wanted us to see that there is a point to suffering.
Jesus’ suffering during his passion not only demonstrates just how much he loved us, but we should also follow his lead and take up our own crosses. We all suffer pain or sadness at some point in our lives. We live in a fallen world, so it is inevitable.
He told His disciples that there would be trouble in this world:
“In this world, you will have trouble. But, take heart! I have overcome this world.” -John 16:33
Many unbelievers do not see any point in suffering and in fact, they do all they can to avoid it. If we are being honest, many Christians do everything they can to avoid it as well. No one wants to get older, suffer an illness or be a burden to their family.
But we should take our lead from Jesus who accepted his suffering. His prayer in the Garden of Gestheme shows us that he didn’t want to suffer but he was willing to do so, if it was what God required of him. While it is not easy, we need to adopt that attitude and teach our kids the same.
As parents we want to protect our kids from the bad stuff in this world. But a day will come that we cannot shield them any longer. I encourage you, mama, to prepare yourself and your children for that day.
As a Christian apologist, I see too many parents making the mistake of avoidance. That is, they don’t want to have those hard conversations with their kids. Rather than avoid or shelter our kids from sin and suffering in this world, we need to equip them to understand it from a Biblical perspective. Help them see that sometimes we need to suffer through experiences and circumstances in order to grow. Jesus never ran from the truth and neither do we. No matter how hard.
That includes having tough conversations with our kids and answering their questions even when they are difficult, like I did with my youngest:
“Mom, was he a child when he died?” my 6-year-old’s eyes searched mine during the celebration of life service.
“I wish I could play with him in heaven.”
“You will, one day, Sweetie,” I told him. “We all will.”
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