My husband and I often talk about our desire to protect our children and keep their lives free from pain and suffering. We tend to be overly cautious with them, trying to avoid physical injury if at all possible. We also fight the urge to put them in a giant bubble that would protect them from all other pain as well. We know that we can’t, and know that if we could, doing so would most assuredly keep them from learning some of life’s greatest lessons, and from experiencing Christ in the most intimate ways. Our own lives bear testimony to this truth.
“You can’t be Jesus for your kids,” my pastor, Doug, told me. But I live as though I can, or that I should be. I don’t want them to need anything other than me. I want to be indispensable to them. And yet I can also start to resent them when they need me too much.
Those poor kids.
“You can’t keep your kids out of the counselor’s chair.” Another truth of Doug’s.
It is the pain, suffering, grief, doubt, anger, loneliness, sadness, confusion, and hurt of losing my mom that has taught me the most about who Jesus is. Of course I don’t wish this pain on my kids, but I do want more Jesus for them, and there may be no sweeter way to get more. It seems odd until I stop and reflect on the painful verse in Isaiah which says that “The Lord was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief.” (Isaiah 53:10) God was pleased to put his son through the ultimate pain and suffering for the good of selfish, God-hating enemies like you and me. (Romans 5:10) He did that to bring those enemies into a relationship with him, sealing their eternal destinies forever. He used a pain and suffering the likes of which we will never have to know to bring about such goodness that our minds can’t fully fathom it. It’s the truth of the gospel that is so simple and yet so fantastical that we have a hard time believing.
Just as touching a hot surface when we are young brings us wisdom and experience and perspective, so too does the pain and suffering that life holds for us all. My kids will not be immune to it and I have to stop praying that they may be. I have to pray that, when pain and suffering comes into their lives, they will find Jesus right there with them. That when they are despised or rejected by others, they will remember that so too was their Savior. That they will experience him as a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief and that the peace they find in knowing that will pass all understanding.
I want more Jesus for my kids. I want them to understand that they need him and why they need him. I want those same things for myself.