“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)
As an educator, I have listened to many students and parents give me their best arguments about the value (or lack thereof) of certain parts of school. I’m sure just mentioning this is probably causing certain thoughts to bubble up in your mind about the “pointless” aspects of your life. But whie you may think diagramming sentences, trigonometry, writing sonnets, or history is a small part of a longer list of pointless activities that schools require of students, the simple fact remains that there must be a reason why we are supposed to do these things.
The academic value of these and other activities is not what I intend to write about, so before that thought dominates, allow me to transition into the real point. Effective teachers have a rhyme and reason for the activities they ask of their students – even those things previously mentioned. They understand that not every activity is going to be exciting, enjoyable, or even desirable. In fact, some projects are just going to stink. However, we go through such experiences to help prepare us for bigger things that will have a greater value in our lives. Basketball players might hate passing, dribbling, and defensive drills, but winning teams are made of players who know how to pass, dribble and defend. Music students might despise scales and theory, but to be a successful musician, you must learn those basic, fundamental elements.
As Christians, God is always working to improve us, to grow us, and to ultimately prepare us for what’s coming. We learn addition so we can subtract; multiplication so we can divide. Likewise, we learn to pray so we can learn to communicate with God. We experience times of hardship so we can learn lessons to take with us to the next set of circumstances – positive or negative – a lesson I’ve learned time and time again over the years.
God’s refining work is ongoing. In our world, it is akin to raising children. There is nothing easy about it. Every day brings new challenges, new lessons to learn, old lessons to relearn, and opportunities to provide children with love in the same way that God gives it to us. For some parents, children provide frustration, hassle, and seem to be a drain upon the life they wish they were living. Anger creeps in, frustrations build, things are said and done that leave hurt and regret, and not just for the moment. Impacts upon our children can last not only throughout their lives, but extend themselves into the lives of the next generation. Yes, in many ways, I am my father. But thankfully, in other ways, I am my Father – training my children in the way they have been created to go. What a blessing it is to know that in doing so, God will keep His promises, building a faith in their lives from which they will never depart. Is there a greater gift I could possibly give? Would I ever want to deny my child of this? Certainly not. So when they get on my last nerve, when other stressors start to take control, when the enemy tries to get me to slip up and abandon what I know God has promised me, I turn to my Father for help, advice, strength, and forgiveness. He gives it to me, so I can turn around and give it to them.
Endure the struggles. Keep your eyes ever fixed on the promises of God, your ears open to voice, and your heart filled with the Holy Spirit to see you through. The reward is great, even if you can’t see it from here.