Matters of life and death are overwhelming. An understatement? Yes. It will drive you batty if you think about it too much. Lately I and my church have been considering our approach to some of the burning issues of the day. That is what led me to challenge our congregants to consider their approach to the issue of abortion, reminding everyone including myself there is a difference between being pro-unborn-life and pro-all-of-life. Our pastor Alan spoke to the racial divide in our nation. Then my friend Dave asked us to consider our attitudes toward leaders, specifically political leaders; more specifically political leaders with whom we vehemently disagree on important matters of life and death. Most recently Alan brought to our attention the scourge of human trafficking. Since then I’ve been checking the tags on all my clothing, rolling my eyes in disgust. Most of it originates from countries where people my kids’ ages are forced…
In the rush to scrape snarky partisan bumper stickers off our cars, buy American made threads, and calm down with a cup of fair-trade coffee, all of which amounts to half a drop in the colossal bucket containing all these complicated bioethical and sociopolitical sins, where do we even begin to pray? Talk about overwhelming. But for me it begins with a little girl and her kid brother brought together under my roof from different corners of the world, both having by the grace of God beaten the odds that circumstance had stacked against them.
For you it might begin with your kids. After all when you consider the miracle of birth it’s fair to say we all, by the grace of God, have beaten the odds. If you don’t have kids of your own, even if you don’t want or like kids, surely you can think of a few somewhere that don’t annoy you too badly. Remember, almost all of them will grow into adults. And I know there are some parents who have lost a child; for whom thinking about this is torture. If that’s you, if it’s your pain I’m pricking, then you have unfortunate firsthand knowledge of how important it is that we pray the following for our children:
That they would have faith. Not faith in themselves. Not faith in humanity. Not even faith in some nebulous, generic concept of god; but faith in God who has revealed himself to us in his son Jesus Christ, and whose Holy Spirit lives in those who believe in him.
That their faith would produce hope. I pray that my kids’ faith will nurture within them a hope, not a wish but a confident expectation, that God will fulfill his promises. I pray they will have eyes to see the evidence of the reality of those promises already present in creation, light, and indeed life itself. I pray they will be there with me when those promises are perfectly fulfilled in the new heavens and the new earth.
That they would know and show love. There are so many false and wrongheaded ideas of love on display in the pages, no…covers of magazines, in song lyrics, on the internet, and so forth, all of them characterized by one fatal flaw: they hawk love as a commodity to be acquired and accumulated for one’s own pleasure. On the contrary, true love dies to itself as Christ died for us. I pray that our kids are able to see through the lies, realizing that true love doesn’t cling to its personal rights, objectify other human beings, or treat them as property. True love gives itself away.
That they would be content. God has a plan for each of our kids’ lives. It likely includes difficult things. It certainly will not include all they want or desire. It will include their own mistakes. They may not make the team or be first chair. Their first choice may reject their application. It just might be too expensive. Their hearts will be broken by something or someone at some point. I pray their identity is wrapped up in who they are as a creation of God made in his image, not all that other stuff. May they be content with their circumstances.
That they would be courageous, brave enough to stand up for those unable to stand for themselves, speak for those who have no voice, and defend the cause of the orphaned, widowed, and mistreated; that they would speak truth to lies and shine light into darkness.
And finally I pray that by God’s grace they would acquire his wisdom; wisdom that allows for the suitable application of faith, hope, and love to the world around them, to the people they come into contact with, and to their own circumstances; wisdom to know when contrition is required and forgiveness is necessary; wisdom to know the difference between contentment and sloth; and wisdom to know the difference between courage and arrogance.
Maybe it’s a lot to ask. But the Bible says God “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” (Eph. 3:20). So I pray for my kids, and maybe your kids, and some other kids, because that’s a starting point I’m able to wrap my mind around. In the meantime who knows the malevolence God might be restraining or the blessings he might be pouring out in some corner of the globe.