God Knows We Worry About Our Children

As one of the most frequently repeated concepts in the Bible, God knew we needed a lot of reminding to not fear, not be afraid, not worry, etc. And, for so many things I feel like I can get on board with that. But, for a handful of others, it feels extra hard. Like health concerns. And sick parents. And losing jobs. Oh yeah, and our children. As far as I’ve been able to discern, there is apparently no asterisk in the Bible that says, “Do not worry” (*except about your children). How the heck are we supposed to do that?!

Anne Rulo God Knows We Worry About Our Children

As a counselor, I know that simply telling someone not to worry is super unhelpful. We want strategies! And, I don’t believe for one second that God is insensitive to how hard it is for us to not be afraid or not worry about something as precious as our children. Of course, He’s given us some obvious tools like prayer and specific verses about parenting. But, He’s also tucked away some additional gems. I wanted to share one I came across one just the other day.

Check out this oft-quoted section of Psalm 127 here:

Children are a heritage from the Lord,
    offspring a reward from him.
Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
    are children born in one’s youth.
Blessed is the man
    whose quiver is full of them.
They will not be put to shame
    when they contend with their opponents in court.
(Ps. 127:3-5)

And now, the verses just before that:

1Unless the Lord builds the house,
    the builders labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
    the guards stand watch in vain.
In vain you rise early
    and stay up late,
toiling for food to eat—
    for he grants sleep to those he loves.
(Ps. 127:1-2)

That’s it. The entirety of Psalm 127 is five verses, half about children and half about laboring in vain. I propose this is not by accident. God knows how so many of us labor “in vain” over our children thinking that if we just keep trying hard enough, we will finally manage to be and do and give everything they need—until we are exhausted. And, in doing so, forget that He is the one who really does all that.

Remember, when used correctly, God’s Word always intends to bring about freedom. Consider the applications offered here…

(v.1a) Unless the Lord builds our homes, we are just spinning our wheels. Exhausting ourselves to make sure our children have everything we think they need, access to every opportunity, and avoidance of every hardship leaves little room for how He might build their lives. He offers us the freedom to trust He is building them, rather than exhausting ourselves to make sure they experience “our” best standards.

(v.1b) Rather than perpetually standing guard over their lives, we could find ourselves able to breathe knowing that God is watching over them, with a better view than we will ever have. He offers us the freedom to reduce the intensity of our vigilance, knowing that He is with them as they grow in independence, ability, risk, etc. Visualizing Him standing guard brings great peace.

(v.2) And, this final part from verse two really got me. What if, as parents, we wholesale reject the idea that good parents are always supposed to be exhausted? Instead, He offers us permission to accept help and pursue normal human amounts of rest instead of rising early, staying up late, and toiling. For He loves us, and “He grants sleep to those He loves.” A rested mind is far less likely to fall into irrational worry.

Whatever you are “toiling in vain” for today, please know you are not alone. Each of us has things that fall into this *very-hard-not-to-worry category because fear is such a strong motivator. May each of us seek to remove whatever our “worry asterisks” are. And, may the permissions and reminders given in this Psalm help us reduce the ways we are “laboring in vain”, allowing God to build, guard, and grant us the rest He designed.

PS – For those who are interested in an extra fun fact, Psalm 127 is one of 15 Psalms known as “Songs of Ascent.” These were the songs sung by Hebrew pilgrims to encourage them as they headed uphill to Jerusalem for annual festivals at the Temple.

A word from God designed to encourage a routine uphill journey toward worship? If that’s not a message to bless parenting I don’t know what is.

Photo by Xavier Mouton Photographie on Unsplash, used with permission

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