So they put slave masters over them to oppress them with forced labor, and they built Pithom and Rameses as store cities for Pharaoh. But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread; so the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites and worked them ruthlessly. They made their lives bitter with hard labor in brick and mortar and with all kinds of work in the fields; in all their hard labor the Egyptians used them ruthlessly. – Exodus 1:11-14 (NIV)
My oldest daughter was part of a group once, a youth organization, and she was really excited about the prospects. She had expectations of how things could be that never materialized. In fact, it was a horribly disappointing experience. The real struggle for her was that we made her stay with it until the end of the year. You see, she had made the commitment to go a whole year before she made a decision. It was a long year. She would sometimes be in a sour mood when meeting nights came up, she didn’t want to participate in activities and she felt disconnected from the group as a whole, but she had given her word.
Sometimes we are shaped and honed by the adversity we face. The Israelites had been prepared over generations for the time when God would call them out of Egypt and take them to the Promised Land. They had begun in a time of great promise with the favor of God and man on their side, but it turned quickly into a situation of oppression and humiliation. Yet God left them in a place of adversity. He let them stay in a situation of difficulty and struggles. This was not to punish them, but to hone them for the time to come. God would do this again and again with his chosen people, and He will do it with us.
Our children will enter into adversity and often our instinct is to remove them from the adversity. We want to protect them from the pain and frustration that come with difficult circumstances. But we need to have the wisdom to leave them in the uncomfortable spaces of life. If we want our children to be prepared for the wilderness of this life, they will need to face adversity. We don’t need to create it for them; life does that all by itself. We just need to be willing to walk them through it instead of pulling them out of it.
God give us the wisdom to see adversity as an opportunity for our children. Give us the words to speak into their lives to encourage them in the midst of trials. Help us walk with our children through difficulty and struggle as you prepare them for Your purposes. Amen.