Our world has an increasingly cynical view of children. More and more the cultural depiction of parenting is negative, with particular emphasis on the child’s capacity to frustrate. While it’s true that at times children bring unique challenges into our lives, no loving parent wants to view their child as a hindrance to happiness.
Moreover, Christians who adopt the world’s opinion of their children cannot hope to be godly parents. God’s design for your family doesn’t include you grumbling about your children’s shortcomings, or viewing them through a selfish, worldly lens. The foundation of godly parenting is bound up in Scripture’s perspective on children. You can’t be the parent God wants you to be if you don’t see the children He’s given you the way He sees them.
Children Should Be Seen As a Blessing, Not a Hardship
First, Scripture clearly teaches that children are blessed gifts from the Lord. God designed them to be a blessing. They are supposed to be a joy. They are a benediction from the Lord to grace our lives with fulfillment, meaning, happiness, and satisfaction. Parenthood is God’s gift to us.
This is true even in a fallen world, infected with the curse of sin. In the midst of all that’s evil, children are tokens of God’s lovingkindness. They are living proof that God’s mercy extends even to fallen, sinful creatures.
Remember that Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit before they had conceived any offspring. Yet God did not simply destroy them and start over with a new race. Instead, he permitted Adam and Eve to fulfill the command given them before the Fall: Be fruitful and multiply (Genesis 1:28). And He set in motion a plan of redemption that would ultimately embrace untold numbers of Adam’s offspring (Revelation 7:9–10). The children Eve bore therefore embodied the hope that fallen sinners could be redeemed.
And when God cursed the earth because of Adam’s sin, He multiplied the pain of the childbirth process (Genesis 3:16), but he did not nullify the blessing inherent in bearing children.
Eve recognized this. Genesis 4:1 says, “Now the man had relations with his wife Eve, and she conceived and gave birth to Cain, and she said, ‘I have gotten a manchild with the help of the Lord.’” She regarded the child as a gift from the hand of the One whom she had sinned against, and she was overjoyed by it. Despite the pain of childbirth, and irrespective of the fallenness of the child himself, she knew that the child was an emblem of God’s grace to her.
What of the children of unbelievers? They represent divine blessings, too. In Genesis 17:20 God promised to bless Ishmael. How would He bless him? By multiplying his children and descendants. He told Abraham, “As for Ishmael, I have heard you; behold, I will bless him, and will make him fruitful and will multiply him exceedingly.”
Throughout Scripture we find a running theme that highlights children as blessings from the hand of a loving and merciful God. In His gracious design, children are given to bring parents joy, happiness, contentment, satisfaction, and love. Psalm 127:3–5 says so expressly:
Behold, children are a gift of the Lord, The fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one’s youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them; They will not be ashamed When they speak with their enemies in the gate.
Clearly, in the plan of God, children are meant to be a blessing, not a hardship. And they usually are a blessing when they arrive. But left exposed to this world and unshaded by the proper kind of protection, they will indeed break your heart.
Parenting Is Supposed to Be a Joy, Not a Burden
The parent’s task is not a yoke to be borne; it is a privilege to be enjoyed. If God’s design in giving us children is to bless us, the task He calls us to as parents is nothing more than an extension and magnification of that blessing.
Parenting is hard only to the degree that parents make it hard by failing to follow the simple principles God sets forth. To neglect one’s duty before God as a parent is to forfeit the blessing inherent in the task, and those who do so take on a burden God never intended parents to bear.
One sure way to fill your life with misery is to abdicate the responsibility God has given you as a parent and a steward of the child He has graciously placed into your hands. Conversely, nothing in your life will engender more sheer joy and gladness than bringing up your children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
Are there inherently distasteful aspects to parenting? Of course, none of us takes delight in having to discipline our children. I quickly learned as a parent that what my parents always told me about discipline was right: It usually pains the parent more than it pains the child. But even the discipline process ultimately produces joy when we are faithful to God’s instructions. Proverbs 29:17 says, “Correct your son, and he will give you comfort; he will also delight your soul.”
The life of the parent does not need to be a disappointment or drudgery. There’s a refreshing, exhilarating wealth of rich joy in godly parenting that cannot be acquired by any other means. God has graciously designed into the parenting process a fountain of delight, if we adopt His perspective and abide by His principles.
Does Scripture guarantee that our parenting will succeed if we follow God’s plan? We’ll consider that question next time.
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