In the first part of this blog, I wrote of how, as Christians, we can seemingly do everything “by the book,” and still find our lives don’t always end up the way we had hoped they would be.
If we teach our children to hope in a good marriage, there is chance of failure. If we teach our children to hope in being financially stable, or a self-fulfilling job, there is chance of failure. If we teach our children to hope in the Big American Dream, there is chance of failure. If we teach our children to hope in perfect parents, we will fail them. And where there is a chance of failure, there is a chance for them to resent the God who loves them. If we teach our children false hopes, while pinning these false hopes to God, we do our children a disservice. Every possible hiccup, speed bump, trial, test they run into, they then have every reason to turn around and blame God’s goodness. And we’re the ones to blame.
“If God loves me, He will want me to be happy and comfortable, and so when I do not feel those emotions, God doesn’t love me; He must be punishing me, and I have to take things into my own hands to steer them the way I want. I don’t need God if He’s not going to make me comfortable.”
Every time life does not meet the false expectations that we have told them God set up for them, our children have every right to be mad at us and mad at Him. I can think of nothing worse.
There’s a Christian cliché, “Jesus and ____;” is this what we have taught our children? Jesus and financial stability. Jesus and education. Jesus and rock-solid marriage. Jesus and love of motherhood. Jesus and the perfect job.
Maybe you’re not sure, maybe you’ve never thought about this before, or you’re unaware of this false hope, so I put together some thought-provoking questions that I think can help us see which trajectory we’re on.
Some questions to ask ourselves: What are my goals for my life? Where do I see myself in 10 years, in 20, in 30? What are my expectations for my kids? Do I want them to be comfortable, and living life with ease? Where did my expectations come from? Are they biblical? Do I expect God to make me comfortable? When things get slightly uncomfortable, do I start to question God’s goodness? What is my reaction when unexpected things happen? Is comfortability a goal I have for my future?
Instead of asking your children, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” ask “How do you think God can use you for His kingdom?” Or “What talents and passions do you think God gave you, and how can you use them to serve Him?”
Let’s start preparing our children to still trust God when life gets unexpected. Every time your children get angry or upset at things outside of their control, ask them, “Who is in control of these things?” and when they answer’ God,’ ask “And is He good?” When they answer “yes,” ask “How can this truth help you feel about the situation? How can you pray with honesty to God?” When they struggle with other people’s behaviors, ask, “Can you remember a story in which people were mean to Jesus? What about when Jesus was crucified, do you remember how the officers treated Him? How did Jesus respond? Do you ever do anything to offend God? How do you think He responds to you? How should you respond in this situation? Why do you think you should respond this way?”
Romans 5:1-4 says, “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” Isn’t this the hope we should be teaching our kids and have as a standard for ourselves? Isn’t this hope what we should be showing the world? Isn’t this hope more precious than rubies?
This system is not perfected. Comfortability and ease are not in and of themselves bad things. Rest is mandated! But we have to be careful it doesn’t become our gospel. We have to be careful that ease and comfortability don’t replace the love of Jesus. We have to be careful they don’t become the idol.
When you look at the life of Jesus, we see constant betrayal, hardship, discontent. In Matthew 8:20, Jesus stated, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” (NIV)
So, let’s do a better job of painting a realistic picture of life for our children. We need to do a better job of teaching our children how to handle the unexpected. “You shall teach [my words] diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” Deuteronomy 6:7 (ESV)
Erin enjoys encouraging other women to seek the grace and forgiveness of God, and help them remember we’re all struggling with something. Erin and her husband have two small children. You can read more from our blog here. To listen to any of our Bible studies, tune in on your favorite radio station, listen to our podcast on iTunes, or listen through TuneIn or Stitcher online radio.