When David was a young man, he tended the family's sheep while his brothers went off to war. One might look at David's assignment and say, "Well, he certainly got off easy. No battle. No enemy to fight. No risk of death." But God was preparing David for the trials ahead.
Read 1 Samuel 17:32-37. Sometime later, when the people of God were taunted and challenged by the Philistines, it was David who stepped forward to fight the giant Goliath. And it was his training as a shepherd, specifically his practice with a sling and his time alone with God, that prepared him to stand before the mightiest man of his day.
We must prepare the next generation for the challenges and trials they will face by pointing them to God's promises.
You know the story. Goliath was defeated. The Philistines were beaten. David was victorious. But the battle was won long before David ever stepped foot on the battlefield. It was won when he learned to trust God back in the fields with the sheep.
God has called us to help prepare the next generation for the challenges and trials they will face by pointing them to God's promises. One of the simplest ways to do this is to show them how we deal with struggles in our own lives.
First, we should find opportunities to share the trials we are going through with our children. We live in a world that sugarcoats and filters everything, and if that's all our children see, they won't be prepared to face the brokenness of this world. But if we share our challenges with our kids, they will be better prepared to face their own troubles when they come.
Second, we must remember that our trials are an opportunity to bring Scripture to life. During trials, we should read the Bible to our kids and show them God's faithfulness. Tell them He was faithful then, He is faithful now, and we can trust Him.
Finally, let us use times of trial to help our children focus on eternity. Our ultimate hope lies in the finished work of Jesus Christ, and no matter how tough things become, we have His promise that one day "He will wipe away every tear" (Revelation 21:4, ESV).
Are you keeping family struggles from your children to try to protect them? Consider sharing some of the trials you face so they can not only learn to expect difficulties in life—and so develop perseverance—but also learn to trust God in all circumstances—and so deepen their faith.
Prayer: Father, give us the wisdom and discernment to share our family's struggles with our children. As we model trust in You with real-life challenges, may their faith in You know new depths. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"Since my youth, God, you have taught me, and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds" (Psalm 71:17).