Several studies in sociology and other educational sciences demonstrate that an overprotected child who has been spared everything, having known only victories, will find himself at a disadvantage, even perhaps in serious danger when the great trials of life hit him or her.
It’s natural to want to shelter our children, but one of the most extraordinary skills that we are called to develop for our families is a healthy, biblical view of how to go through trials.
Let’s not be afraid. Do not despair in the face of failures, trials, handicaps, delays or deserts that we are going through. They are powerful tools in the hands of God to speak to the hearts of our children and to shape us, to transform us. Your family today needs to hear the voice of God who says, “I will not leave you or forsake you” (Joshua 1:5), “I am the Alpha and the Omega” (Revelation 22:13), and “I am still working! My mercies never come to an end; they are renewed every morning” (see Lamentations 3.23). “When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue is parched with thirst, I the Lord will answer them; I the God of Israel will not forsake them” (Isaiah 41:17).
Let's not limit our God. Instead let's look at how many men and women in the Bible — Abraham, Moses, David, Gideon, Joseph, Peter, Paul, Mary, Sarah, Esther — were shaped, comforted, transformed and used by God despite the life strewn with trials and failures from which they recovered.
“My son, eat honey, for it is good, and the drippings of the honeycomb are sweet to your taste. Know that wisdom is such to your soul; if you find it, there will be a future, and your hope will not be cut off. Lie not in wait as a wicked man against the dwelling of the righteous; do no violence to his home; for the righteous falls seven times and rises again, but the wicked stumble in times of calamity” (Proverbs 24:13-16).
This week, remember that regardless of how many times your knee bends, God will lift you up. In suffering lies great good for us and our children, both now and in the future.
Claude Houde is the lead pastor of Eglise Nouvelle Vie (New Life Church) in Montreal, Canada. Under his leadership New Life Church has grown from a handful of people to more than 3500 in a part of Canada with few successful Protestant churches.
God can and does use angels to minister to people, but he mostly uses his own caring children to dispense his grace. This is one reason we’re made partakers of his grace, to become channels of it. We are meant to dispense it to others. I call this “people grace.”
“To each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift” (Ephesians 4:7, NKJV). Because of the comfort we’re given through God’s grace, it is impossible for any of us to continue grieving our whole lifetime. At some point, we are being healed by the Lord, and we begin to build up a reservoir of God’s grace.
I believe this is what Paul meant when he wrote, “I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me by the effective working of His power. To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ” (Ephesians 3:7-8) and then “…you all are partakers with me of grace” (Philippians 1:7).
The apostle is making a profound statement here, one that the apostle Peter takes even further. Peter writes, “As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God” (1 Peter 4:10). What does it mean to be a good steward, or dispenser, of God’s manifold grace? Am I such a person? Or do I spend my time praying only for my own pain, grief and struggles?
God’s grace made Paul and Peter compassionate shepherds, able to weep with those who grieved. They were saying, “When I go to God’s throne to obtain grace, it is for your sake. I want to be a merciful shepherd to you, not a judgmental one. I want to be able to dispense grace to you in your time of need, and you should do the same for others.”
Beloved, our present sufferings are producing something precious in our lives. They are forming in us a cry for the gift of mercy and grace to offer to others who are hurting. Our sufferings make us want to be grace givers.
The gospel of Matthew tells a story that might disturb some believers: The Gentile woman with the demon-possessed daughter.
This woman seeks Jesus so persistently the disciples say, “Lord, send her away. Get rid of her. She won’t stop bothering us.” Note Jesus’ response to the woman’s pleas: “He answered her not a word” (Matthew 15:23, NKJV). Evidently, Christ ignored the whole situation. Why would he do this? Jesus knew this woman’s story would be told to every future generation, and he wanted to reveal a truth to all who would read it. So he tested the woman’s faith by saying, “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 15:24). Christ was saying, “I came for the salvation of the Jews. Why should I waste their gospel on a Gentile?”
Now this statement would have sent most of us on our way, but this woman didn’t budge. I ask you, how often do you give up on prayer? How many times have you grown weary and reasoned, “I’ve sought the Lord. I prayed and asked. I just don’t get any results”?
Consider how this woman responded. She didn’t reply with a complaint or an accusing finger, saying, “Why are you denying me, Jesus?” No, scripture says just the opposite. “Then she came and worshipped Him, saying, ‘Lord, help me’” (Matthew 15:25).
What follows next is hard to read. Once again, Jesus rebuffed the woman. Only this time his reply was even harsher. He told her, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs” (Matthew 15:26). Once again, he was testing her.
Now the mother answered him, “Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table” (Matthew 15:27). What an incredible reply. This determined woman was not going to relent in her pursuit of Jesus, and the Lord commended her for it. Jesus said to her, “’O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire.’ And her daughter was healed from that very hour” (Matthew 15:28).
Beloved, we are not to settle for crumbs. We have been promised all the grace and mercy we need for our crises. That includes every crisis involving our families, saved or unsaved. We’ve been invited to come boldly to Christ’s throne with confidence.
There comes a time when certain life situations are beyond human hope. There is no counsel, no doctor, no medicine or anything else that can help. The situation has become impossible. It requires a miracle, or else it will end in devastation.
At such times, the only hope left is for someone to get to Jesus. That person has to take the responsibility to get hold of Jesus, and they have to determine, “I’m not leaving until I hear from the Lord. He has to tell me, ‘It’s done. Now go your way.’”
In the Gospel of John, we find just such a family in crisis: “There was a certain nobleman whose son was sick at Capernaum” (John 4:46, NKJV). This was a family of distinction, but a spirit of death hung over the home as the parents nursed their dying son. Someone in that troubled family knew who Jesus was and had heard of his miraculous power. Word came to the household that Christ was in Cana, about twenty-five miles away. In desperation, the father took it on himself to get through to the Lord. Scripture tells us, “When he heard that Jesus had come out of Judea into Galilee, he went to Him” (John 4:47).
The Bible says he “implored Him [Jesus] to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death” (4:47). What a marvelous picture of intercession. This man set aside everything to seek the Lord to provide a word.
Christ answered him, “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will by no means believe” (John 4:48). What did Jesus mean by this? He was telling the nobleman that a miraculous deliverance wasn’t his most pressing need. Instead, the number-one issue was the man’s faith.
Christ desired more for this man and his family. He wanted them to believe he was God in flesh. So he said to the nobleman, in essence, “Do you believe it’s God you’re beseeching for this need? Do you believe I am the Christ, the savior of the world?” The nobleman replied, “Sir, come down before my child dies!” (John 4:49). At that point, Jesus must have seen faith in this man. It was as if Jesus said, “He believes I’m God in flesh” because next we read, “Jesus said to him, ‘Go your way; your son lives’” (John 4:50).
Many believers don’t want to believe that they will suffer hardship or know pain, but scripture has a very different word for us.
Consider the Psalmist’s testimony: “I love the Lord, because He has heard my voice and my supplications…. The pains of death surrounded me, and the pangs of Sheol laid hold of me; I found trouble and sorrow. Then called I upon the name of the Lord: O Lord, I implore You, deliver my soul!” (Psalm 116:1-4). Here was a faithful servant who loved God and had great faith; yet he faced the sorrows of pain, trouble and death.
We find this theme throughout the Bible. God’s Word loudly declares that the path of the faithful is through the floods and fires: “Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth…. I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert” (Isaiah 43:19). “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you” (Isaiah 43:2). “For I, the Lord your God, will hold your right hand, saying to you, ‘Fear not, I will help you.’” (Isaiah 41:13).
This last verse holds an important key: In every wilderness we face, our Father is holding our hand, yet only those who go through the wilderness get this hand of comfort. He outstretches it to those who are caught in raging rivers of trouble.