Death does not scare me. Not even the tiniest bit. I have looked it in the face, and my thoughts when facing it have been tested. My faith held strong, and I had no thoughts of doubt or fear. "For I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day." (2 Timothy 1:12)
My thoughts were only for my children. For those who I was leaving behind. Someone said of me recently that my kids were my currency. That's pretty accurate and insightful, coming from someone who does not know me well. Because that is the truth.
All of my children were in church on the first Sunday after they were born. One of them was born on Friday. Good thing I didn't have any Saturday nighters. :) They were given to the Lord in a church dedication service on their third Sunday of not living in the womb. It's a good thing my pastor loved me and put up with my strange requests. But in actuality, they were given to the Lord from the moment that I knew that they grew within me.
Now they are all adults. And people often ask this of me: How is it that these five kids are all living for God? So, I will share with you one of the biggest lessons that I ever learned in this regard.
As a young mother, I begged God to give me wisdom and show me how to teach my children to love and serve Him. I struggled because I did not have strong examples from my own childhood to draw from, with the exception of my grandmother. I studied the lives of the families at church that I wanted to emulate. The ones who were raising their children in the way that I wanted mine to go.
My first thought, as a new parent, was to protect them from every hurtful and difficult thing that could ever come their way. To somehow create a magical place when no mean words would ever harm them and where they would never feel afraid or any great pain. I would build a big protective bubble around them to keep them safe and happy.
But that was my own wisdom, and not God's.
Then God revealed something to me. I knew within myself was a resilience and a resolve that God had given me. I knew that I could face great adversity and live through the storms of life. I knew that I had a deep and abiding faith in my Lord and Saviour that could not be moved. I knew my joy in Him was untouchable by the circumstances of life.
I took those things for granted I thought that all Christians possessed these qualities. But then I looked around, and I realized that they did not.
What made the difference? Why did I have this dependence on the Lord and many Christians did not? I guess the question was, why wasn't every Christian like this?
Then God showed me. I knew the Lord this way because of the difficulties that I'd been through. God had used my hardships to show Himself to me and to draw me unto Him. I wouldn't know Him like this had I not hidden under His wings many a night when I was terrified of the storm. He couldn't have protected me had I not been afraid. He couldn't comfort me if I had not known pain.
Those who I knew who had been sheltered as a child, and who had been not allowed to feel the pains of life or held accountable for their actions were the least equipped to face the difficulties of life. They were weak and blown about in the storm. They did not know the Lord as I knew Him.
The storms, and not the sunshine, are what makes your children strong. Not strong in and of themselves, but strong in Godly character and integrity. The trials and difficult times are the things that make your children strong in the Lord.
And so, I did not ask of God that my children live without pain and struggle. I do not ask it now. I settled it a long time ago. I pray for God to treat them as kindly and as gently as possible without compromising the need that they have to know His strength in the storm.
I pray that God does whatever that is needed in their lives for them to know and trust Him as I know and trust Him. It's not an easy prayer to pray. You'd better be ready for God's response. I've had some heart crushing answers. But I trust Him still. More than ever. I love Him so much.
So maybe 2 Corinthians 12:9 was not such a surprising lesson after all.
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