In Spite of not Instead of

In Spite of not Instead of

How often do you pray for your child’s protection? Often, right? Because you’re a good parent who cares for your child, and you know God cares for your child too.

Yes, it’s one major goal of motherhood to keep your children safe from harm and protect them from any negative events that could occur. I mean, we all have that inner “mama bear” that is ready and willing to come out and step between our children and danger should the need arise.

We pray for safety. We pray for protection. We pray that others would face no complications, that their surgeries would go smoothly, and that there would be no obstacles on the road to the things we work for.

It’s okay and it’s perfectly normal. Who wants someone we love to face difficulty, suffering or persecution? No one wants that, and no mother wants any of those things for their children. In fact, I think that if we, as moms, could put a protective bubble around each of our children before we send them out the door, we would do it.

But the reality is this: we can’t. As much as we wish and pray, we cannot protect our children from everything that could harm them. Accidents happen. Their feelings will get hurt by others. They will lose games or matches. They will do poorly on an important assignment. They will be left out. The reality is life is a struggle. Jesus even said, “Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows” (John 16:33, NLT). We should expect them, but we still want to keep the trials away, if we can.

I’ve been studying the book of Acts this year in my Bible study. I came across a story about Peter and John and the other members of the early Christian church. Peter and John performed miracles and preached in the Jewish temple about Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. While many came to accept Jesus as their savior, the Jewish leaders were not as impressed. In fact, they were angry.

The council of Jewish leaders could not deny the miracles that Peter and John had performed. They saw the results with their own eyes. They feared that if they put Peter and John in jail, a riot would ensue. All they could do was warn the men to stop preaching about Jesus.

In response Peter and John said, “Do you think God wants us to obey you rather than Him? We cannot stop telling about everything we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:19-20, NLT).

When the council let Peter and John go, they returned to the other believers. And this is what I want us to focus on. The believers began praising God. They lifted their voices together in joyful prayer. They were not afraid; they were thankful. They even prayed these words:

“And now, O Lord, hear their threats, and give us, your servants, great boldness in preaching your word.” -Acts 4:29, NLT

Did you catch it? In the face of persecution and threats of jail and beatings, these believers prayed for boldness. Notice they did not say, “Please, Lord, remove these threats and give us ease as we teach others about you!” No, they asked for boldness in spite of the threats, not instead of the threats. 

That’s pretty shocking and counter-cultural, right? Who doesn’t want to be comfortable? Who doesn’t want things to run smoothly? Who doesn’t want to feel safe?

These believers possessed a wisdom I think we can glean from them: Faith does not grow in the safe, easy places of life.

Think about it with me. If you have ever gone through a struggle, a sickness or a death in your family and you chose to seek God, did your faith not grow? Did you not feel an intimate closeness with God? I have found that to be true for me, and my mom, who faced stage 3 breast cancer, would say the same.

In our struggles, if we call out to God, we can sense a closeness to Him like we have never known. The truth is that suffering grows intimacy and intimacy with God grows our faith. When we spend time with God, we get closer to Him and get to know Him better. And when you know someone intimately, you can put your faith in them so much easier.

We pray for safety and protection, but when we do, what else are we praying away? If nothing grows in a comfort zone, than what are we missing out on by staying comfortable?

I don’t mean that we should stop praying for our kids’ safety, because we definitely should keep doing that. But maybe, it’s okay to let them struggle a bit. Maybe it’s okay to let them turn to God and see Him work on their behalf. They won’t know they need a savior if we always save them from every little bump in the road. 

Instead, let’s pray that God would work mightily through us so that our children can see Him. Let’s pray for boldness to share the truth of Jesus with our children so they can stand on their own two feet and proclaim their own faith one day.

If we say that God works out all things for our good (Rom 8:28), let’s pray we can really believe it and live it. Let’s pray for faith and boldness in spite of, not instead of. 

 

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Kristen Johnson

Kristen is an "accidental farmer's wife" and stay-at-home mom of 3. Accidental, because it was never in her plan to "just" be a mom. But it was God's. Former English teacher now turned MOPS Coordinator and Speaker, Kristen now writes at nap-time, blogging about her silly kids and her farming adventures, as a mom Called by God. She lives in Minnesota on a farm with her family, dog and 5 cats.
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