I hate to see my kids suffer. Ever since Ava and Ryder were born, some of my least favorite memories have been taking them to the pediatrician for their regular check ups and the dreaded...SHOTS! Even though they couldn't talk when they were infants, they would look up at me with that confused and pained expression that asked, "Why are you allowing me to experience this pain?" The answer, of course is, "Because it's for your good. I know it hurts and I know you don't understand, but trust me, it's for your good."
But, if I'm honest, the reason I hate it when my kids suffer has less to do with them and more to do with me.
I think their suffering actually hurts me far more than it hurts them and as a result my tendency is to shield my kids from as much difficulty and discomfort as possible. The problem is, discomfort is the soil in which character grows. The Apostle Paul makes this point in Romans 5:3-4 writing, "...we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope..."
In his great book, "Sacred Parenting: How raising children shapes our souls", Gary Thomas writes the following:
"Out of love for our children, we must become strong enough spiritually to watch them hurt, to see them become disappointed, to hear their cries. Otherwise, we risk raising safe and compliant kids with an empty core. In this area our own immaturity and spiritual weakness can handicap our children."
Obviously, there are certain experiences and unnecessary sufferings all good parents have a responsibility to protect their kids from. But, if we're not careful, we may be shielding our kids from the very circumstances the Holy Spirit means to use as a source of sanctification in their lives.
So, I'm asking God to help me put my kids' holiness before their happiness. I'm asking God to help me shepherd them through suffering. I'm asking God to kill my cowardice and grant me the courage to lead them toward Jesus in all seasons and circumstances of life.