“Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed….Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root.” Matthew 13:3, 5-6 (NIV)
“The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away.” Matthew 13:20-21 (NIV)
This fall we are looking at The Parable of the Sower and the different ‘crop failures’ that teach us spiritual lessons for discipling our kids. These ‘crop failures’ help us discern what to avoid and what to prioritize when teaching our kids to follow Jesus.
In August we looked at the seed that fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. We learned that the key to preventing the enemy from stealing God’s Word from our children’s hearts is to equip them to fully understand His Word.
This month we are looking at the seed that fell on the rocky places (see Scripture above) and how it sprang up quickly because it had little soil. To see last week’s blog about providing good soil for our kids, click here.
This week we will discuss ways to prevent the scorching heat from withering our children. In Matthew 13:20-21 above, we read that the scorching heat represents trouble or persecution.
So how do we prevent the enemy from using trouble or persecution to cause our children to fall away from their faith?
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (NIV)
First of all, our children need to understand that just because they know Jesus, it doesn’t mean that they won’t have trials and persecution in life.
In fact, Jesus told his own disciples this very thing (see verse above). When our children realize this truth, they won’t be caught off guard when trials occur. Sometimes these trials come as tests of our faith or temptations they must face. No one is exempt from trials, and our children must learn to accept the fact that trials will come, and they need to face them boldly rather than run from them or even worse, run from God.
Here are some ways to equip our children to face trials:
- Read Bible stories (there are plenty to choose from) where people faced trials, temptations, and persecution, and talk about how God helped them through each one.
- Watch Christian movies where this theme is evident and discuss how God helped the characters stand firm. The Torchlighters Series, which can be found on Right Now Media, or DVD’s from Amazon, is a compelling series focused on missionaries who stood firm in their faith amidst persecution.
- When situations arise in your family, talk about how God is helping you through the trial and what you can learn from it. When your kids hear your own testimonies of how God helped you through trials, it will encourage them to stand firm in trials as well.
Next, when facing trials, our children need to find their peace in Jesus.
We read in John 16:33 that this world does not bring peace, but Jesus does. Whether it’s getting a shot at the doctor’s office, the death of a pet, or feeling hurt by their peers, we need to teach our children to run to Jesus for peace.
Here are some ways to encourage our kids to do so.
- Provide scripture cards for your kids to read and memorize relating to peace. One of my favorites is “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27 (NIV) I know this one by heart because I have meditated on it through many trials through life.
- Pray with your kids when they are anxious. Ask for God’s peace to fill them up as they cast their anxiety on the Lord. You could encourage them to close their eyes and picture themselves giving the scary or difficult thing to Jesus and in return receiving His peace with open hands. (1 Peter 5:7)
- Remind them as they leave home and face tests or trials that they can put on their peace shoes. (Ephesians 6:15) The shoes of peace are part of God’s armor, and their peace comes from knowing the good news about Jesus. Knowing they are forgiven and loved children of God will give them a sense of peace that many kids do not have and will help them walk through all of life’s hardships.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
James 1:2-4 (NIV)
Lastly, we can teach our children to learn and grow from their trials.
Once they have had a chance to feel their emotions and process the hardship (this takes longer for some than others or depends on the trial), we can gently ask them what they can learn from the situation. We can let them know we are sorry they are hurting, afraid, etc, but we know God wants to bring good out of this trial and teach them something.
Here are some specific questions we can ask to encourage them to grow from their trials.
- What have you learned from this trial?
- What do you think God wants to teach you through this trial?
- How do you think Jesus would respond if He faced this trial?
Encourage your kids to take a step of faith and grow in maturity, whatever that looks like, and praise them for doing so. Remind them of the verse above which says that God wants to make us mature and complete, not lacking anything, and we as parents are still working on that process too.
When our children understand that trials will come and they are equipped to face them by receiving God’s peace and growing in their maturity as believers, they will not be the withered plant that was scorched by the sun. Instead, just like a tree whose roots deepen from the hurricane-force winds, our children’s roots will deepen as they grow in their faith and their character. They will also be equipped to encourage others who go through trials as well.