We often see military children suffer because of a parent’s service, but in this week’s Monday Minute, Stephanie challenges us to look for how God is using that suffering to produce hope in them.
When Military Children Suffer
by Stephanie Ward
Suffering = hope.
You read that right. Suffering = hope.
Before you question the validity of this equation I want you to know this is true. This exact formula is found in the holy Scripture.
Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.
See? It is right there, suffering equates hope.
As an Army wife and Christ follower, I have learned a thing or two about suffering. I hate it when I’m going through it, but when I come out on the other side I can look back and see how all of the suffering points to the hope of God’s glory. While I still cringe when I hear the word “suffer,” I have made peace with its necessity in my life and am thankful for the sanctification process.
But when I think of the military life and the correlation between hope and suffering I struggle to accept this destiny for my sons.
I often find myself praying or thinking, “God, let me suffer, but not my kids.” I don’t want to see them struggle through the trials that growing up in the military brings: periods of separation from their awesome Dad, living far from their loving extended family members, being the new kid, moving, and facing the unknown. More often than I’d like, I find myself wringing my hands in worry and wishing the suffering and affliction away from them. I can torment myself with a thousand “what if” situations if I didn’t learn the Bible verse, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8) A Military gal could set herself into quite a tizzy focusing on the “what if’s.”
Lately my heart has been torn between rejoicing in exciting possibilities for my husband and fretting a little about the unknown future and the situations my kids will face in the next phase of military life. The other night when we were driving home from youth group, my oldest son was chatting about catching up with an old friend. He shared about the difficult life lessons his friends were experiencing. These kids had to face the natural consequences of some poor choices they had made. My son stopped mid-sentence and said, “You know, I miss everyone in my old school, but sometimes I’m glad that God took me out of that school so that I wasn’t influenced too.”
And it hit me, suffering leads to hope.
My 12 and a half year old had enough discernment to see that. Moving was a challenge, leaving behind old friends and making new ones was a struggle, but through all of that I watched my tween son develop a dependence on God all on his own. Something I could have never done for him.
The suffering of this last PCS led to a sanctification process for my son that has been inspiring to see.
I learned that wishing away suffering for my kids, is wishing away God’s hope. And I NEVER want to wish away God’s hope for my children.
So, military mom, if you struggle like me with not wanting to see your child suffer in this special calling as a military child, take heart, and know that maybe this military journey will sharpen them into the young man or woman that God anointed them to be. Maybe a PCS could remove them from something that could have been terrible and open up a door to a beautiful new opportunity.
No matter what your specific child is suffering through, don’t wish away the suffering because that’s wishing away God’s hope for our strong, awesome, anointed kids.
Train Read Romans 5:3-4 and let God’s Word train you in his ways.
Remember How has God used your suffering to develop endurance, prove character, and build hope in your life? What is an obstacle you have seen your child overcome?
Pray Write out a prayer thanking God for the suffering and trials that you have been through that has led to hope. Thank God that he can and he will lead you and your family from suffering to hope time and time again. Be specific and praise God for each blessing through that specific trial.
Lord, Thank you that you love me and my children enough to grow us and sanctify us through the process of suffering. May our lives reflect the hope of Jesus and may we leave a legacy of Christ for the next generation. Amen.
If your heart aches when your military children suffer, you’ll find some great support and tools to point them to hope on our Parenting Resources Page.