Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
There is nothing quite like being a parent to highlight certain Scriptures with excruciating clarity.
Since Ash Wednesday, I’ve been reading and re-reading in the book of Romans, going through a couple of chapters over my breakfast and diving into a smaller portion for closer study when the meal has been consumed.
My weekend reading focused on chapters 9 and 10, which a read through a handful of times. I broke today’s fast with eggs scrambled with kale, onion, and red bell pepper along with a side of Romans 11, the previous two chapters still fresh on my mind. Then over coffee, I turned to Romans 5 for examination.
And I saw a horrifying glimpse of the grief our Creator feels over the rebellion of His creation. His children.
I saw it because I recognized a tiny sliver of His grief in Paul’s impassioned words from Romans 9:2-3:
…I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh.
And I recognized it because now that my own little brood have begun trying their wings, I share a human-sized portion of the same unceasing anguish, not only for my brothers, but for my children.
If I could trade my salvation for the assurance of each of theirs, I would do it without a second thought. Now with our oldest counting down the months until legal adulthood, I am more certain of this than ever before.
There is definitely anguish in my heart as I watch him stumble into a trap lined with acceptance but secular to its purposeless core. Only weeks after I’d bragged on what a delight he has become, he has seemed to turn a darker corner and morphed into the stereotypical rude, withdrawn teenager.
And the people who have his heart are not my brothers and sisters in Christ as before. I do not even know where they come from, but he is more connected with them than with any portion of the Body of Christ at present. This is a source of terrible grief for me.
And yet, I know there will truly be no greater joy for me than if I live to see him and his sisters walk in the Truth.
For now, however, I pray. I watch. I search the Word for wisdom and guidance. And I pray even more.
Through it all, I also rejoice in this season of parental suffering because, while it is intensely frightening and painful to watch my firstborn dancing around a fire which threatens to consume him, I know this form of suffering, too, brings endurance.
Endurance in prayer, greater hope in the faithfulness of my Lord.
But it also because this heartache helps me to understand with greater poignancy the never-failing, never-ceasing capacity for forgiveness and love held by my Father’s many times shattered heart. And also because through this anguish, I begin to better understand His keen joy when even one lost child is found and begins to walk in truth.
Lord, forgive me the hurts I have inflicted on You by my rebellion and untrusting ways. I never knew what pain was until now. Please guide my children to You. May they become Your children more truly than ever they were mine, and we rejoice together to someday see them walk in Your Truth.