As I get older and (hopefully) wiser, I am realizing more and more that it is better to see this life on earth as temporary. I am just passing through the fire, so that I am ready for the wedding feast in heaven. And part of that passing is to encourage and build others up in the hope and glory of Jesus!
Paul instructs us to do this very thing, “…encourage one another and build each other up…” (1 Thessalonians 5:11). Life is hard to live; and the one way we can make it easier for each other to stay the course in God’s hope while facing our tribulations is to encourage one another through them. And as a parent, we must do this ever so more for our children. They look to us for this very thing.
One way to encourage our children is to teach them to persevere through the difficulties they face vs. allowing them to run from them. I have not always been good at this as a mom. Like most moms; I have wanted to protect my child from suffering. But as I grew in my parenting skills, I learned that the truth of the matter is this, my children will suffer! And I can’t always keep them from this. But the one thing I could do was teach them a new perspective, help them to walk obediently through the fire, and prepare them for the wedding feast in heaven. After all, who would attend a grand ball in tattered clothing? To dress our children for the wedding feast in heaven, it takes meticulous preparation and often times that prep time requires suffering.
Now the story I am about to share with you is a bit extreme. Hopefully none of us will encounter this type of suffering, but I share this, so that you will learn from the mom in this story. She is the focus, not the child. Reading from the Foxes Book of Martyrs a young child of seven was called out of the multitude and asked this question, “Tell me, whether you think we should worship one Christ, and in Christ one Father, or else should we worship many gods?”
The boy replied “…certainly we affirm that God is one and that this one is unique and in as much, Christ is unique; as He is the one true God. For that there be many gods, we children do not believe. Of my mother, with whose milk I sucked in this lesson, that I must believe in Christ.” From this confession, the child was treated as a young villain and traitor and was sentenced to suffer for his faith. Now most moms would want to protect her child; and she may even be persuaded to deny Christ and teach her child to do the same..all in fear of seeing him suffer horribly. But the mother of this child did not give into this temptation. She encouraged her child to stay the course.
While the child was hoisted up and scourged, the mother said to her sweet babe, ‘Do not crave cold water, instead thirst after the cup that the infants of Bethlehem once drank of, forgetting their mother’s milk and their paps.’ She willed her son to remember little Isaac, who willingly would be sacrificed; she gave this counsel as the tormentor harmed her son. The mother cried to her child, ‘Suffer, my child! And soon you will pass to Jesus. Your naked head now will be crowned in eternal glory.’ Denying her own pain, she encouraged the babe with a smiling countenance. And finally as the child would be beheaded, the mother sang this song to her son ushering him into the glory of heaven:
All laud and praise with heart and voice,
O Lord, we yield to thee:
To whom the death of this thy saint,
We know most dear to be.
“O Lord, we yield to thee…” is the purpose of every Christian mom and dad when it comes to their children. Our offering to the Lord is their little life being filled with the knowledge of our Lord. This mother knew that to hold her child here on earth in denial of Jesus was to give him the most evil gift of all. For she knew that it is better to reign in glory forever and ever with the Lord than to reign a few short years with the most evil of people on earth. She gave her son the gift of encouragement to press on and pass through.
Our current circumstances may not be so severe, but we can learn from this mom, to teach our children that their trials are opportunities to stand firm in their faith and to encourage them step by step to press on until one day they dine with Jesus. We do a disservice to our children to teach them to quit, give in, and remain unchanged. May we work hard among our children, admonishing them, holding them in high regard, and with great love, the love of our Christ, teach them to set their minds above so their souls are strong for the task at hand.