On the weekend, my husband and I babysat for a young couple who went to see Les Miserables. Their two children, one not quite three and the other just over a year, were lots of fun, and we had a great time. Of course, when bedtime came, it wasn't as fun. Most kids don't like to go to bed when their parents aren't home. It's unsettling. I used to hate doing it when I was a teenager and my parents were out. After some tearful moments, they did fall asleep. I was glad that their mother didn't know they were crying. Mothers find it hard to watch their kids hurt.
I know the feeling. My big kids often get hurt. A hug is not often enough; it's usually a lot more complicated. There are times when we have to discern when to speak and when not to. It's especially challenging with boys, because as their mother, I have to remember that they are not little boys, but young men, and I can't just insert myself in their sorrows because it can threaten their sense of independence. The other difficulty is that when they have these big people struggles, it's part and parcel of their sanctification, and even if I wanted to step in and fix things, I can't. The days of micromanaging their boo boo's are over. Words often feel very empty when one is counselling a young lady in tears or a young man who is trying to keep it all inside. I often see myself in their sorrows, and I understand the anguish they may be feeling at the time.
"This is in God's sovereignty."
"The testing of your faith produces endurance."
"Count it all joy when you meet with trials."
These are the kinds of things I can offer, but I know it still hurts, and in their most forlorn moments, I wonder if they are thinking, "That doesn't help me right now; I just want it to stop."
It doesn't change the fact that it's the best kind of advice. It doesn't change the fact that ultimately, we raise children to be adults, to work through things on their own, to learn to cling to Him they way they clung to us as little children. The good news is, of course, that God is infinitely better able to help them than we are, anyway.
I read this exceprt from John MacArthur's Drawing Near this morning, and I think the words will help not only them as they struggle, but also me as I often feel so inadequate to guide them in these big moments:
No matter how ill-equipped you may feel at times, realize that God "is able to do exceedingly abundantly beyond all that [you] ask or think, according to the power that works within [you]" (Eph. 3:20). So keep striving according to that power (Col. 1:29), but do so with the confidence that ultimately God will accomplish His good in your life.