This is my Isla. (That’s pronounced eye-luh. I know somebody read it “iz-luh” and I just can’t handle it!) She is ten months old and is the happiest, friendliest baby. She always smiles a whole-face smile, and when she wrinkles that nose, it’ll make your entire day. She is an absolute joy.
Sometimes I look at that smile and think- she doesn’t know what life is like yet. She doesn’t know anxiety, fear, disappointment or the pain of loss. She doesn’t know the burning ache of broken trust or the deep sorrow of regret. She doesn’t even know physical pain really.
There’s a part of me that wants to shield her, and all my kids, from feeling those things. I want to do everything I can to protect them from physical harm and emotional pain, but I can’t. This is life. Our world is broken. Bad stuff happens. I can’t protect her, or any of my kids, from pain.
The good news is I can do better than that. I can give them Jesus.
When they come to me with boo-boos, as I kiss, clean and bandage it, I can tell them how Jesus was hurt for our sins, and that he cares about their pain.
When my 7 year old gets her feelings hurt by a friend, I can tell her how Jesus’ friends were nowhere to be found right before he laid down his life for them and for her, and that he is a good and kind friend who loves her.
When one of my kids feels alone, I can tell them that Jesus was utterly alone in his last moments, but that he has promised he will never leave us.
When my 5 year old is afraid, I can remind him that Jesus is his salvation, and we have nothing to fear.
When they experience loss, I can tell them how Jesus gave up everything so that we can know God and be his children. That because of what Jesus did, the best thing we can ever have is something we can never lose- a place in the family of God.
When they are sad, hurt, afraid, anxious, lonely, discouraged...I can tell them that their savior Jesus felt all that too. That for our sake, he endured the worst suffering anyone ever has when he bore our sins to the cross. But! He overcame death, and is alive and with God, praying for us. That the Holy Spirit is with us and comforts us. That one day all will be made new and there will be no more suffering and pain.
I don’t know what life will hold for my kids. But of this I’m sure- it is better to know suffering and have Jesus than for life to be so good that I believe I have no need of him. I’d rather stumble through loss, betrayal, and heartache and end up at the feet of Jesus, than run anywhere else in happy oblivion to suffering.
Do I want my children to suffer? Of course not, but they will. And when they do I will hold them, kiss them, weep with them, and I will give them Jesus.