This is a continuation of the first 5 parenting lessons I shared in the previous post, lessons I learned through the experiences of being the mom of a special needs child. They gave me a more clear perspective about how to parent my children.
6. God disciplines us because He delights in us
“My son, do not reject the discipline of the Lord, or loathe His reproof, For whom the Lord loves He reproves, even as a father corrects the son in whom he delights.” Proverbs 3:11-12 (NASB).
God disciplines and corrects us. When He does point out the things that need to be changed in our lives, it hurts. It means we have to let go of things that are dear to us, things that might compromise our relationship with Him! It’s hard to acknowledge this and humble ourselves under His mighty hand. It’s painful to feel His judgment over our sin.
But I know as long as I voluntarily let Him condemn my sinful inclinations, and I agree with this condemnation, He is only judging the sin in me, not me as his child. God delights in me, and wants to set me free from everything that hinders my growth in godliness! This comforts me, because I know: He began a good work in me and will carry it on to completion.
When I have to correct my children, I want to pray for wisdom, so that they know I don’t condemn them as a person! I love them and just want to help them see they have a human nature with sinful inclinations, that’s why they so desperately need a Savior.
7. God is patient and full of grace
“The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness.” Psalm 103:8
When my child doesn’t obey right away, I feel frustration bubbling up. But when I think about how patient God has been with me, it softens my heart. Of course it’s best – for my own sake – to obey right away. When we don’t obey we often have to suffer the natural consequences of our poor choices. But God never struck me with lightning because I needed time to surrender to His will. He kept speaking to my heart though!
When you read about the history of Israel, God’s incredible patience is evident. Moses, directly spoken to by God from the burning bush, hesitated to obey God’s command to go to Pharaoh – he actually talked back! Moses didn’t believe he got what it takes to be a prophet; he wasn’t a great public speaker. God didn’t punish him for talking back. Yes, He rebuked him with words, but He also provided help, in the form of an assistant: his brother Aaron.
And later on, when Israel wandered through the desert, God showed his patience over and over and over. They grumbled, they complained and they doubted Him, but He still gave them manna, led them to water, defeated their enemies and showed them the way to the promised land. Yes – in the end most of the Israelites weren’t allowed to enter the promised land, but this was after He had given them many, many chances to put their trust in Him.
I don’t write this to argue that it’s okay to not obey God right away. That’s certainly not okay! I want to be quick to surrender to His will! But when it comes to my children, I should extend them the same grace I have received many times. I will absolutely encourage them to obey quickly, and gently train them in obedience, because it’s in their best interest. However, I shouldn’t resort to punishment, when all they need is a little help to accomplish their task, for example.
8. God goes his own way with every child
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
We all have different circumstances. We all have different trials. But for those who love the Lord, all things will work together for good: in all this we will be transformed into the image of his Son, Jesus Christ.
There is no one-size-fits-all in how God treats us. And there is no one-size-fits-all in parenting. It wouldn’t be fair to treat all children exactly the same way, to follow some sort of pattern or formula, or stick to a plan of ‘8 steps to discipline a child’ – because each child has its unique needs, possibilities, talents and character traits. Yes, I love every one of my children with all my heart, but my oldest often needs a different approach than her 10 year old brother, for example. Therefore, I cannot rely on certain ‘parenting tactics’ without seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
9. God is a righteous judge
“And the heavens declare His righteousness, For God Himself is judge.” Psalm 50:6 (NASB)
God is the only One who knows our deepest thoughts and motives, and who can judge us according to our consciences, whether our thoughts accuse us or defend us. He knows all sides of every situation, and therefore He can give a truly righteous judgment.
As a parent, I want to strife to be righteous when it comes to handling issues with or between my children. I shouldn’t just end a fight between the kids by sending one of them to his room, without investigating what really was going on.
At the same time, I have to admit that, unlike God, I don’t know everything. I’m not always in the same room as they are – I don’t know all sides of a situation. I can probably sense what’s going on inside a child, but I can’t see the heart like God does. That’s why I have to be very careful!
With my limited knowledge I can easily misjudge a situation and perhaps blame a child for something he didn’t do. If that happens, I have to humble myself and ask my child for forgiveness.
1o. God has plans to give us a future and a hope
“For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NASB)
These were God’s words for the Israelites who were exiled to Babylon. That was a dark time for Israel! But God spoke to them about a bright future. He gave them hope!
This verse tells me so much about God’s heart for his people, for the ones He loves. His heart is filled with plans to give his children a future and a hope. Because He Himself is full of hope for the future!
I want to always carry this hope in my heart. Even when my children misbehave, when they are going through hard times – even if they would stray away from the path of life. Someone once said to me: “If a mother doesn’t have hope for her child anymore – then who on earth does?”
No matter how dark the situation may seem, how many questions that may arise about their future (about her future, for example), I want to train myself in thinking hopeful thoughts about my children and their lives. And – just as important – I want to speak these thoughts to my children, as prophetic words they can cling to: “It will go well with you! God loves you. He has begun a work in you. Stay close to Him and He will fill your life with peace and joy and happiness!”
Yes, I believe God has a plan for my children, a good plan, full of blessing, and an eternity filled with joy! And I am incredibly thankful He placed them in my life, to make me a witness of his plan with them, while He is still fulfilling his plan for me in my life. And I will surrender to Him, wholeheartedly, because I love Him and trust Him as my Father.