Teaching our children how to endure persecution

One of the hardest things to do as a parent is to teach our children how to endure anything that causes them pain. Moms seem have the most difficult time in this area. Like mother hens, we want to run and shelter them with our wings from all the thundering verbal abuses, torrents of physical bullying, and the gusting winds of emotional distresses that rage against our precious little ones as they face the world each day. No matter how young or old they are, we always see them as our little chicks and we so desperately want them spared from such evils. We don’t mind if all these adversities come thrashing down on us. We’ll take it. We’ll persevere. And we’re willing, ready and able to cover our children while pecking at all that dares to harm them.

But then -- we hear our Savior say:

“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you... But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for He is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.”
~ Luke 6:27-28, 35-36

Our youngest son, who’s a sophomore in high school, recently suffered a serious high ankle sprain, which the doctor said is equivalent to a break because it involves more tendons that have ripped and requires just as much time to heal as a broken bone; 6 - 8 weeks. He’s on crutches and has an ankle brace. He’s in pain physically. And now, he’s having to endure needless and senseless emotional pain.

“What kind of wimp gets a serious injury from playing a woman’s sport?”

“You’ve gotta be the biggest wimp ever!”

“We understand if you got injured from playing a real game. You know, a man’s sport like football. But tennis? HA! Give me a break! What a wimp!”

And when there’s little time for a full onslaught of vomiting rancid insults, they are sure to get in a quick jab as he walks by, as they shout:

“Woman’s sport!”

Oh heartbreaks of heartbreaks. As in many times past, I found myself, once again...struggling. What was my initial reaction? My first thoughts? I assure you, it wasn’t to remind my son of Luke 6:27-36. It sure wasn’t to remind him that he should have pity on these poor souls. It wasn’t to teach him to forgive them in spite of themselves. To love them. Do good to them. Bless them or pray for them. No, none of these things were the first things that popped into my mind when I first heard the ridicule he received from the other students at school.

But regardless of my flesh’s desire to shelter my children from every storm, I know if I truly love them, I’ll give them what’s best. I will do good to them. Even if the good at the time, seems very, very hard. True love seeks the greatest benefit for the object of their love; not the quickest route to bring them comfort. To be reminded of this fact, we only need to look at the Cross.

So, I prayed. And prayed. I asked God to open my mouth with wisdom, so that the teaching of kindness would be on my tongue (Proverbs 31:26). Why? Because I truly love my son. And although I wish I could kiss this “boo boo” away just as quickly as I used to when he was younger; I am unable and unwilling to give my child cotton candy training; all sweet and tasty, but no substance to make a lasting effect. I want to give my child God’s best. So I gave him God’s word. I reminded him of Luke 6 and the four action items our Lord Jesus gave us: love, do good, bless and pray for all those who do evil to you.

“Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay says the Lord.’ To the contrary, if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
~ Romans 12:17-21

Thanks be to God, I have an amazing husband who not only supported our son with godly words of encouragement, but he also exhorted him to stay faithful to all that God has called him to, and be proud that these petty remarks, are all his accusers can come up with. They have no character qualities to jeer at. So they've jumped on the only thing could...his physical injury.

Dad's, you'll never know the impact your words, whether encouraging or demeaning can have on your sons; especially during their teen years. Speak words of life and truth to them. And like our son, it will more than carry him through the day. Loving and compassionate instruction from a father catapults a son beyond every persecution and lifts his eyes towards Jesus so that he can rise above it all, by faith and trust in God alone.

Am I still sad? Yes...a little. But it’s a peaceful sadness because I’m resting in the fact that our Father God’s wings provide a far greater covering than mine.