Language acquisition? So far it has been piles of fun. Love it. Love it. Love it. Parenting? Waaaaaay harder. And in recent weeks we have asked pretty much every praying person to pray for our son Elias who is trying to squeeze in as much terrible two behavior as possible before he turns three in July. And it has been rough. However, the other day, I had a total paradigm shift during a conversation I had with Dave. It went like this…
Me: “You know, I really enjoy the kids and like having them around when they’re not screaming at me and peeing on the floor.”
Waiting for affirmation and sympathy…
Dave: “Yeah, everyone loves those who love them.”
My jaw dropped when Dave said this. I was expecting him to agree…and then he quoted Jesus. These words of Christ pierced me to the heart. It is easy to love kids (or people in general) who love me, but true Christ-likeness is to love those who treat me badly. I later read this passage in Luke: If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.
But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful (Luke 6:32-33, 35-36). I realized that I have been expecting respect and obedience in return for the service, discipline, and instruction I have rendered towards my son. Granted, God does expect obedience from Elias, but that should not give me a sense of entitlement. Instead, I am to be like God who feeds people who thanklessly breathe his air and eat his food, even cursing him while doing so. In the same way, if the ungrateful in my home are hungry, I am to feed them and expect nothing in return.
Wow, what conviction. So as I have been meditating on this passage, I realized it may be that this trial is not primarily about Elias but instead is about me. Maybe the Lord’s purpose is actually my maturity, rather than his. Maybe I am to pray with as much zeal that I would love like Christ than I pray for him to submit and obey. Maybe this is not about him, maybe it is about me. Maybe I am the one who needs prayer.
And, since there is nothing new under the sun, maybe there are those reading this blog who are in a similar situation with a child, roommate, co-worker, family member, or someone who hates you because you are a Christian. Maybe this trial is not just about praying that the Lord would convict and save them (which are noble ways to pray), but maybe this trial is primarily to teach you to love those who hurt you. Maybe it is to challenge you to greet those who snub you, to freely share with those who take from you, to quickly turn bitter thoughts to thoughts of prayer, to do housework for a spouse that expects it but does not appreciate it, to speak kindly to those who make fun of you… Maybe God is holding you under this trial until you reach a certain level of maturity. Maybe the Lord puts us in the families we are in, gives us the spouses we have, causes us to go to church where we go to church and work where we work in order to bring “enemies” into our lives so that he can teach us to really love.
If this is the case, then God help us love and help us grow! When missionary, Ann Judson, was facing a major trial her response was: “We wish to sit down under the rod…till the end for which the affliction was sent shall be accomplished.” May all of God’s goals in sending affliction into our lives be accomplished and may we love those who hurt us.