Nurturing a Faith That Endures, Come What May
Here in southern Colorado, we recently witnessed the most devastating wildfire in state history. Hundreds of homes and thousands of acres burned. Smoke billowed up in an eerily colored, apocalyptic swirl, then descended over our city in a thick, brown haze that made your lungs hurt when you took a deep breath. Ash rained down, covering rooftops and yards—the sorrowful, wispy remains of other people’s rooftops and yards. One elderly couple lost their lives.
It was surreal, horrific to watch the flames march down the mountains like a dragon with a thousand tongues of fire, engulfing one house after another in fireballs. Over a thousand firefighters fought to keep it from taking other homes, yet it raced unabated across the forest floor, taking ridge after ridge.
In the aftermath, it broke our hearts to look upon the blackened remains of the once-verdant, beautifully green hills and valleys that border our town. But experts say that fire is actually good for the forest. (They’d prefer a manageable
surface fire to a full-scale canopy fire like this one, but sometimes the choice isn’t theirs.) According to principles of forest management, what looks like devastation can actually be a gift, thinning out the dead material, opening up the tree canopy, and enriching the soil with nutrients that aid new life.
Individuals who so tragically lost their entire neighborhood to the fire also sought the good that comes through loss.
They sifted through the remains of their homes—a foot deep in ash—but they consistently mused about the gifts of life, of community, of people coming to their aid. It was heartwarming to watch a spirit of unity unfold. Amid tragedy and crisis, people came together around a common focus: a desire to help others heal, survive, and rise again. And in our busy, separated, largely short-on-true-community lives, this was another gift we all counted among the ashes.
As Christians, we’re called to take the lead when hard times hit. To stand and be counted among those who place their confidence in a God who is completely good, even when life feels bad. Yes, life is rough. At times, brutal. But it’s also
amazingly, achingly beautiful. Full of hope and potential and possibility. And if we want to raise children whose faith can thrive in difficult circumstances—children who live in a loving, wholly trusting relationship with their God, who are able to see the beauty even in the midst of the fire and smoke, who remain alert for signs of hope amid the rubble—we have to model that kind of relationship with our God. Come what may.
As parents, we want to equip our children to be strong and courageous disciples. But we can only teach them what we already know for ourselves, right? So this devotional addresses both our personal relationship with God—to make sure we have his priorities clear in our heads and hearts—and our role as parents who seek to trust our loving God with our
precious children, knowing he only seeks to be closer to them. Come what may.
We feel responsible to protect and shield our children from harm. So it seems odd to wish upon them anything but
peace and prosperity. But if you’re like me, the adults you admire—the people you’d like to befriend and emulate—are
people who live life deeply, richly, and in a holy fashion, regardless of what life throws at ’em. They have the spiritual
stamina to make it through the fires of difficulty and maintain a sense of optimism and hope. To press on through the darkness, which in turn somehow helps them better appreciate the light.
It’s understandable and right to pray for our children’s protection, health, and well-being. But too often, we slip into
spiritual timidity. We like to stay in that safe zone—and we definitely prefer to see our children in that happy place, right? But if we wish to be warriors for Christ, resilient disciples of the Way, we’re after more depth in discipleship, knowledge of the Holy, and a full-on trust of the One who loves our children best. And if we’re to trust him with everything in us, we have to lay our lives—past, present, and future—in his hands. Perhaps most challenging, we have to lay our children’s lives there as well.
This is not a sweet and gentle devotional. It wrestles with thirty-one issues that will most likely drive us to our knees,
praying ourselves or our children through them. But I believe God redeems the time, the effort, the pain, every time. And when you fully absorb these truths and make them a part of your prayer life, I believe you will see a harvest in your own life and in your children’s. Because this is rich, dark, moist, fertile soil, post-fire stuff. Growth stuff. The kind of stuff that initially leaves you grasping for words and gasping for air. But after the smoke clears, when you can rise and take a deep, unencumbered breath, you will feel stronger for the experience, knowing that you’ve witnessed yet again the faithfulness of the One who loves you most.
The topics we’ll be exploring touch on truths we want our children to learn sooner rather than later, truths that offer the
security of knowing they will always be loved and will never be alone. And that, ultimately, is what all parents really want for their children, right? To that end, I’ve included little “discussion starters” at the end of each devotional, to aid you in sharing these perspective-shaping truths with your children.
I am praying for you this day, as you hold this devotional in your hands, that our Lord will hold you and your precious
children in his hands. Peace upon you, sister and brother. May you be strong and courageous. May you make your God and your children proud by daring to know him better, each and every day, and by trusting him, regardless of what comes, so that your relationship with the Holy deepens, and your life grows richer in the process. Amen!
Excerpted from Upside-Down Prayers for Parents by Lisa T. Bergren. Copyright © 2013 by Lisa T. Bergren. Excerpted by permission of WaterBrook Press, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.