This article is written by BCC Counselor Theron St. John as part of our new series on the family. In this series, our counselors examine various difficulties of family life and share ways to pursue healthier family dynamics.
Not too long ago, my wife Esther and I’s lives changed forever.
My wife and I were expecting it to happen but not in the way that it did. We wanted to be equipped when the time came, but we found out how unprepared we were.
On September 20, our beautiful baby boy Israel was born. We were well stocked on diapers and had his room ready at home, but what we had not done was prepare our hearts for this transition in life.
This became apparent in my heart within three days of my son’s birth.
My wife had lingering complications from the delivery and was in need of my continual help. Rather than respond with kindness, I was sharp in my words toward her and did not have the attitude of a servant.
At the same time, we had a baby to take care of now. The evenings proved to be stressful. The moment I thought our son was finally asleep, I would lay my head on the pillow just to hear him burst out with another cry. I would give him a pacifier, which he would take but then spit it out again. We repeated this action a couple of times to no avail. I quickly grew frustrated at my son for his lack of understanding of my need for sleep.
In these moments of frustration, the Lord opened my eyes to see Him.
My response toward my wife and my son was neither kind nor patient. I was failing to reflect the character of God, who is both kind (Romans 2:4) and patient (2 Peter 3:9), to my wife and child.
As I came to grips with my sin, I knew I needed God’s power and guidance for my marriage and parenting.
In His grace, the Lord led me to meditate on Psalm 121. What I found was not only encouragement for my soul but hope to share with young families.
Psalm 121 provides hope to young families that God helps us and holds us.
God Helps Us
Besides marriage, the relationship between parent and child may be the most sanctifying.
In the first two months of my son’s life, I have heard myself raise my voice and have seen myself become impatient toward my son. The most convicting part of it all is he is helpless to any of my responses. He cannot help that he cannot feed himself or that he doesn’t know what is best for him.
What my son needs from me in those moments is not my anger or impatience; what my son needs from me is my help. I realize I need the same from the Lord in my parenting. All parents do.
We cannot parent faithfully without the power of God found in prayer and the wisdom of God found in His Word.
The wisdom we find in Psalm 121 says, “I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.”
When we look to the hills and feel small, that is the exact place where the Lord wants us because that is the place where we recognize our total dependence upon Him. He created everything and knows the help we need in our parenting.
In His kindness and patience, He provides us with the help we need.
God Holds Us
The truth that God helps us in our parenting does not mean each step will go smoothly.
Babies may get colic. Toddlers may make a scene in front of company. Siblings may fight and hit each other even after being told to stop. The list could go on and on.
While God’s help does not promise things will go smoothly in our parenting, it does ensure we will not slip. We will fail at times as parents, but we can stand firm in our parenting because God holds us.
When we are tired and worn in our parenting, God holds us because “He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep” (Psalm 121: 3-4).
When it seems like our children willfully rebel against us and darkness seems to overshadow any progress made in parenting, Psalm 121:5-7 remind us the Lord is our protector. “The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life.”
When we feel like we are at our wit’s end with all of the challenges of parenting and want to give up, we can rest in the truth the Lord is the preserver of our parenting because “The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore” (Psalm 121:8).
Getting to hold my son for the first time is a moment I will always treasure. Yet, what I treasure even more is I am held by God my Father.
My hopes for parenting do not rest on how my child will behave or what others will think of my wife and I as parents. My hope for our family is that we have a Father who is there to help us and hold us.
You and your young family can have the same hope!