I want you to know something about training up children in the way they should go: it’s hard. It’s at the same time the greatest joy and a constant source of heartache. While you may see your child soaring spiritually, growing in the Lord every day, knowing Him more and loving Him more even while she becomes a woman in a culture that preaches every wrong thing at her all day long, you may also see that her circle of friends dwindles. That she searches and doesn’t find a like-minded soul to share her teenaged years with. You may look up and realize that your child is on the narrow path, and there isn’t a lot of foot traffic there, especially in junior high and high school. You may figure out that your child is interested in all of the things that the rest of her world is not. And, you will laugh at the brilliance and beauty of her spirit which is anchored to Christ. And you will wipe tears as you wonder where she will turn for friendship and companionship and close friends as her years go on.
In all of that, in all of the jumping for joy and the wringing of hands, we must remember that in the end it will all be worth it. In fact, it’s worth it now. It’s worth it to see your child discovering Christ, really seeing Him and learning to depend on Him.
The question is not whether our children can flourish on this path. It’s isn’t whether they can handle the possible rejections or the loneliness or the feelings that come with living as outsiders in a land that very much values insiders. They can. They can and will flourish. They can and will handle it. They can and will endure suffering, the kind that leaves them searching a crowd of high schoolers, looking for one sign of encouragement. For one hint of, “We’re waiting for you. Come and sit with us.” Our kids, with Jesus, can withstand this and so much more.
The real question is whether we as parents will have the strength and the courage to stick with this plan. To forget about popularity and temporary glories so we can point our kids to eternal things. The question is whether we will turn to our Savior, counting on Him to be enough for our children, to sustain them and us through tough teenage years and the trials of being different, the sometimes pain of choosing Christ above all. Will we falter when we see our kids suffering? Or will we remind them that in these hardships they are identifying with their Savior?
When we pray that our children will have tender hearts toward the things of God, when we pray that they will be radically devoted to Him, we must also be prepared for what that really means. And we must remind each other, over and over again: it’s worth it. He is worth it. We can rely on Him to see our children through as they blaze a path of faithfulness through a world that has been dulled by complacency and hopelessness. This is what we have been praying for. God give us the faith and the perseverance to see it through, even when our hearts break. Following Christ isn’t easy. But it’s worth it.