Shepherding Children through Hardships and Trials

Shepherding Children through Hardships and Trials

Whatever the situation, when our children are hard-pressed with troubles and trials, we can be on the lookout for ways to come alongside to bear their burden (Gal. 6:2). This, too, takes wisdom because every situation and child are different. There is no one-size-fits-all playbook here, so godly wisdom is needed to meet each child where he or she is. As we gauge the gravity of the trial and a particular child’s capacity to handle it, wisdom means tailoring our engagement to the situation.

Seeing our children suffer through trials can be extremely difficult. Even parents who are well-equipped to cope with their own problems often find themselves feeling helpless when their child is the one hurting. How can we shepherd our children through adversity in a healthy, God-honoring way? When troubles find our children, here are three ways we can support them.

Provide a Faithful Presence

As parents and caregivers, when we see our children suffering, our impulse is to jump immediately into action mode. Sometimes urgent intervention is the right and necessary thing to do. But it is also often the case that children who are facing trials need our faithful presence more than our problem-solving skills. We know from our own experience that in times of turmoil, sometimes we simply want to be comforted by the presence of a loved one—someone who will patiently sit with us rather than rush to fix us, someone with whom we feel safe. Our children yearn for that type of refuge as well, and one of the highest privileges of being a parent is that we get to reflect this aspect of God’s good character in our homes.

If parenting can be compared to shepherding, this part of our role is the one in which the shepherd comes to know his sheep so well that his mere presence is a comfort to the flock. Likewise, there is a way in which we can embody the peace of God while pointing our children to Him as our ultimate rock and refuge (Ps. 18:2). When crisis barges into our children’s lives, we have an opportunity to be there for them in a way that communicates a calming reassurance over their distress. Before we even lift a finger to help resolve the crisis at hand, our presence and demeanor can show our children that we are with them and for them and, even better, so is God. In times of need, we can remind our children that the Lord is near to all who call on Him (Ps. 145:18).

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