As the father of five children it is hard to exaggerate the amount of times I have either heard or said that children are a blessing from the Lord. With each additional child my wife and I had to come to terms with that truth. With each strange look from a passing stranger or funny comment from a friend we were confronted with how deeply we believed this. But one of the things I have just started to realize (I’m a little slow sometimes) is how narrow our understanding of that promise of blessing can be.
Mothers can be weighed down by guilt when the news of another baby on the way is accompanied more by anxiety and questions than laughter and anticipation. Fathers can begin to allow the reality of blessing to fade into the far distant future. These little ones can feel more like Social Security- always paying in but never fully receiving the benefits promised.
Children are a blessing. God had spoken and He is always faithful to His Word. But two additional truths must be taken into account. First, God’s blessings taken for granted or managed in a worldly way or idolatrously worshipped will quickly turn into curses. Second, God’s blessings often come packaged in difficulty and sacrifice. Children are a blessing when we parent them in faith trusting God to use His appointed means to bless them and make them a blessing to the world. Children are a blessing when we learn to count it all joy when we face trials of various kinds. And let me assure you children are trials of every kind imaginable. Yet, God uses them to bless us by sanctifying us. We are able to make our children holy because God uses them to make us holy.
So the next time someone tells me that children are a blessing while we are standing in line at Wal-Mart neck deep in conflict, grumbling, and fatigue, I can put a smile on my face and say with deep resolve “Amen!”