Children: gift or trial?

Posted on July 7, 2016 · Posted in Discipline, Gospel, Parenting


You introduce your children to a new friend. With a big smile you say, “here is my collection of living, breathing trials. I can’t wait for you to meet them.” Your friend says, “Did you just call your children trials?!?” You reply, “Yes, yes I did. Honesty is the best policy and honestly, trials are exactly what they are, all three of them. Care for lunch?”

I know, sort of a bizarre conversation, isn’t it. Or is it?

When things are challenging with your children, it is easier to think of them as trials rather than gifts from God. The reality is that both descriptors, trials and gifts, are accurate biblical terms to describe your children. In places like Deuteronomy 6:5-7 and Ephesians 6:1-4 we read that teaching children to love God is to be a 24/7 activity. So the battle is on. You, as a parent, are to be engaged in hand-to-hand combat for your children’s spiritual well-being. On a good day you see blessings. On most days you see trials.

Let’s think about this for a moment. Is it really appropriate to call your little blessings trials? The answer I believe is yes! James says count it pure joy when you face trials of many kinds. The trials that your children represent to you are opportunities to confront them with the gospel of Jesus Christ and the truth written by the Holy Spirit! Your children, born in darkness, provide you the wonderful trial of battling for truth in their lives. This is what James calls pure joy!

Judges 2:10 tells us that a nation of children grew up in Israel without being confronted by the truth of God’s word, without having the heart-to-heart encounter with the Spirit’s truth that Deuteronomy demands. Deuteronomy 10 says that children were required to love God. This is a challenge and a trial for parents to engage in this kind of spiritual warfare. Anything less results in the sorry mess that was typical in the time of Judges and, sadly, in the lives of so many families today.

Embrace the trials that your children represent. Take up the challenge to confront them with God’s truth and to require that they love God. As you faithfully follow God’s command to raise your children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord, your own heart will be richly blessed and you will agree in gratitude with the Psalmist:

“Children are a heritage from the Lord,
offspring a reward from him.”

Marry Wisely, Marry Well


Jay Younts
Jay Younts is the Shepherd Press blogger. He is the author of Everyday Talk and other materials on parenting. He has been teaching and speaking on parenting issues for 30 years. Jay and his wife, Ruth, live in Fountain Inn, South Carolina. He serves as a ruling elder at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Moore, South Carolina. He and Ruth have five adult children.