We have so many dreams for our children, don’t we? Our hopes and dreams become prayers for their future lives and faith. We pray that our precious little ones will grow healthy and strong in body and mind, will develop their gifts and skills with excellence, and, first and foremost, that they will faithfully pursue the Lord, loving and serving him all their days. These are good dreams.
Sometimes the Lord grants our prayers and we watch as our children grow in wisdom and stature and the flower of faith gently blooms in their hearts. Sometimes though, we watch our dreams wither and die, and we learn what Job meant when he said, “The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD” (Job 2:21). For believers, hope anchored in the faithfulness of our God never dies. We pray that the Lord will spare our children from trials and pain. Even so, “It is correct to think of all God’s answers to our prayers as either “Yes” or “Let me give you something better.”
I am the mother of five precious people. This is the story of the Lord’s better gift to my middle child.
The Lord Gives
As sweet as she was stubborn, little Rebekah was a beautiful, snuggly, eager-to-please child. Her golden curls attracted every sunbeam, and her blue-grey eyes melted our hearts. As we said goodnight at bedtime, she would place her dear hands on each side of my face, pulling me gently toward her, saying, “I tissa you head” (translation: I kiss your head).
As a teenager, however, Rebekah drifted from our family and her faith. Her relationship with her sisters was marred by strife and discord; her brothers were frustrated and confused. We prayed, we fought, we cried, we grounded her, we pleaded with her, we prayed even more. I could get lost in the weeds here trying to describe those years, but I’m still not sure I understand. What I know is that the Lord had his hand on Rebekah and he did not allow her to drift any farther from shore than he planned.
When Bekah left for college we hoped that she would buckle down and focus on her studies and her future—she didn’t. We prayed that seeing the Lord blessing her dream would encourage her faith—it didn’t.
The Lord Takes Away
A few months before her graduation, with the offer of her dream job awaiting her at the finish, Rebekah called home.
“Mom, Dad… I’m pregnant.”
Within the space of those four words our hopes and dreams for Rebekah came crashing down. Her choices broke our hearts, not as much by the actions in which they resulted (which were painful indeed), but the unbelief which they revealed. The life she chose reflected her rejection of her faith and her embrace of sin.
The one glimmer of hope we could see in the rubble was Bekah’s determination to give her baby life. She knew that she carried within her a living child, and her native stubbornness protected him against the many voices that encouraged her to abort in the early months. Oh, …praise God for that stubbornness.
Rebekah continued making foolish decisions for her future. She moved in with her boyfriend, three hours from home. Even still, our church family embraced her with love and support, joining with us in prayer for wisdom and grace to shine into our daughter’s darkness. Loving Bekah well required deeper wells of resources than I possessed. Our covenant community demonstrated love for her when I didn’t know how: a beautiful baby shower, hand-me-down clothes for her and the baby, genuine smiles and hugs, never compromising the gospel but speaking the truth in love at every opportunity.
Fast forward to the birth of my precious grandson, and two weeks later Bekah brought him home for a few days’ visit. Our time with them was bittersweet as we loved on them both, though her heart was unchanged. However, when it was time for them to leave, the Changer of hearts intervened; the Lord said, “Enough.”
The Lord Gave Something Better
There was no thunder and lightning, no rolling back the waters of the sea, but a quiet meeting in our living room with the earnest pleading of our pastor and two elders as the capstone on the months-long prayers of the saints. As our faithful shepherd spoke words of truth, seasoned with the Great Shepherd’s love, the Lord cracked open Rebekah’s stony heart and his grace flowed in as a mighty flood, overwhelming her unbelief with Light and Life. Three months later our pastor wept as he baptized our grandson before the congregation who had faithfully loved and prayed for her.
In the years that have passed, the Lord has graciously blessed Rebekah with a Christian husband (who loves her son as his own) and a second son. They live near our son-in-law’s family, and our grandsons are growing up among a noisy, tumbling herd of cousins with loving aunts, uncles, and grandparents. They are active members of their church, and are both working in the careers for which they worked and dreamed while putting their family first.
Blessed Be the Name of the LORD
God’s plans for my daughter were far higher and better than ours. While we were planning for success and happiness, God planned for her sanctification and holiness. If it is true for us parents that sanctification comes through trial and pain, isn’t it also true for our children? If it’s true that the tested genuineness of my faith is proved by the fiery, necessary trials that burn off the dross of sin and unbelief, isn’t it also true that my daughter’s faith will be proven genuine and strengthened in the same forge?
This is only one story of the Lord’s dealings in the life of one family. In his infinite wisdom, our God fashions the sanctifying joys and trials for his children in a manner that fits each of them uniquely and perfectly. Are you still in the midst of painful trials with your precious children? Cling to Jesus. Is your faith weakened and stumbling? Pray for help in your unbelief. Are you weary and numb? Allow your covenant family to support you with prayer and real help in time of need. Though God slays you, hope in him, because he has a purpose even for your pain (Job 13:15; Romans 8:28).
My grandson began Kindergarten last week, and Rebekah cried after she drove away from the school, wondering where the time has gone. When she got home, she posted the following on Facebook:
“Oh [son], my prayer for you is that you continue to find joy in the little things you love, laugh with your whole heart, and learn as much as you possibly can. – “Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.” -Hebrews 13:20-21”
Our Jesus does all things well.
Megan Hill, paraphrasing Robert Murray M’Cheyne, in Praying Together (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2016), 25.
About the Author:
Barbaranne reads, writes, cooks, runs, and shoots an occasional photo in Texas. She and her husband Jim are the parents of five of the neatest people they know and grandparents to the first two of (hopefully) many grandchildren. She has been blogging ever since she accidentally signed up for a blog while attempting to comment on a friend’s blog post and figured, “Why not?” She now blogs at Gratefuland Women of Purpose, a ministry of the women of her church. Barbaranne and Jim are members of Christ Presbyterian Church in New Braunfels, Texas, where she leads a Bible study for women in the hope that she and they may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge.