How many of us fully understand the truth that we are unconditionally loved? Unconditional love is very foreign to us. We can define it but we never fully give it nor get it from anyone but God. Only God can teach this truth through us to our children.
Do you feel the tension as you grapple with the truth that love can be unconditional and still insist on change. God loves us just like we are but too much to leave us in these selfish patterns. His love insists that we grow in our ability to truly trust Him more. Trust allows Him to make us more holy and more wholly like Him. The hardest time to trust God’s love is when we are suffering.
Suffering is essential to the Christian growth. Even Jesus learned obedience through the things He suffered (Hebrews 5:8). Trusting God and obeying when it is easy may be acts of love but it neither stretches us nor reveals to us or others any true convictions or core beliefs. Doing what is right when it is hard and or even feels impossible, trusting God’s goodness when everything in us wants to just give up, or do the opposite not only grows our faith but it solidifies our core beliefs and bears testimony of our love for Jesus. It is never more essential to believe in the goodness of God’s loving heart than when we are suffering. Satan tempts us and even the world around us, like Job’s wife, encourages us to, “. . . just curse God and die.”(Job 2:9)
David wrote Psalm 23 at a time of great suffering. His son dethroned him and wanted him dead. He fled from Jerusalem for his life. Even in that place of possible death and destruction surrounded by enemies, God brings him food and comfort. (2 Samuel 15- 17) As He reflects back to those boyhood days of caring for sheep, he must have surely seen a parallel. God walked with him through the valley of the shadow of death. He brought him a feast in the presence of his enemies. Psalm 23 reflects a deeper understanding of God’s love because he suffered well.
Children suffer too. It may not seem as life threatening or as consequential as those things adults suffer. Yet, to be bullied at school, ridiculed, rejected, fail to qualify for the team, lose a cherished pet, or have to move away from all your friends can be just as heart wrenching. Above and beyond that, many times our children do lose loved ones or find themselves wondering how they will survive when a parent loses a job. Suffering is universal. It is not a respecter of age or origin. Model suffering openly and well. Hear their hearts and comfort them with the comfort God has given you. If God is really good all the time then we shouldteach it! Believe it! Live that truth in front of them.