When Our Children Struggle

The house was quiet, the kids all at school. Sitting at the table, head in hands, I was frozen in worry for my son. Caught in the midst of some struggle, he felt hard to reach, distant. We always worked hard to maintain good communication with our kids. We tried to do whatever we could to provide for them a stable home life and a loving family. And now, something felt off, troubling. And all I could think to do was sit and think it all through again and again.

Worry or pray

Throughout the day, I went through the motions. Plan meals. Straighten house. Complete tasks. Worry. I was so wrapped up in hopeless wondering that I was missing from my own day. It is amazing how helpless one can feel as we watch our babies grow up. Pictures of his smiling preschool face ran through my mind. Memories of soccer successes and academic accomplishments contrasted with the pallor of this day. Heavy. Dark. Worrisome. My mantra began, “What can I do? What can I do? What can I do?” Worry and prayer take the same energy but worry displaces God from the situation.

Lay down the burden

Yet I know that "The Lord has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all" (Psalm 103:19). At the end of the day, alone in the car, I did the only thing I knew to do. I prayed. I cried out, aloud even, to our God who loves him best. I felt suddenly compelled to lay before God the worries about my boy. I repeated my prayer, again and again, and affirmed what I know to be true. This child, this one that I love so much, this one is not mine. While I have been entrusted with him, the truth is that he belongs, “body and soul, to his faithful Savior, Jesus Christ.”

Recognize the identity

Our children don't belong to us, they are God's. And I know that the love that Jesus feels for my son is far greater than any love I will ever be able to give. He wants good for him. He can take all struggles and turn them around into something that will build God’s Kingdom. This child, with eyes that look just like mine, is a child of the King. And when I find the strength to lift my head up from my hands, I can see that worry will do nothing at all. My weak and whispered prayer holds far more power than any amount of worry ever will.

Set the example

Our families need us to lead prayerfully. They need us to trust God to see us through this day and the next. They need less holding tight and more letting go as we set our beloved children at the feet of Christ. The best example that we can set is being connected to God abiding in him.

John 15:4-5 tells us, " Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

Jesus made prayer a priority by slipping away to quiet places to talk with the Father. If Jesus needed that connection, imagine how much more we need prayer in our lives. Our children will be blessed to hear us pray with them and for them. Jesus modeled for us how we should pray and we can bless our families by following that example and praying for them.

Believe that God is in control

There is no part of our lives that God does not understand, and he will enfold and embrace our children in ways that we will never comprehend. And when they struggle, when they fall, when they wander and wonder and waffle in their faith, our prayers will be heard and answered. We trust that he who began a good work in our children will bring it to completion (Phil 1:6). Our tears will be dried and our cries will be quieted and our children will find their place in the Kingdom here on earth. This truth I hold, I find hope.

About the author — Nadia Swearingen-Friesen

Nadia Swearingen-Friesen is a writer and national speaker with a passion for empowering parents to approach their families with great intentionality and grace.  Nadia and her husband, Mark, are the parents of four children and live in the Chicago area. Nadia also blogs at http://nadiaswearingen-friesen.com/

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