Sometimes Things Will Be Bad

In the daily grind of wiping bottoms and enforcing time outs, the big picture can get a little fuzzy. But every so often, I catch a glimpse of the goal in Christian parenting: raising people who love God and bless others.

We were somewhere between time out five and six of maybe ten today when a neighbor boy stopped over to escape the rain. After devouring a peanut butter sandwich, he approached our tiny wooden train set with a huge grin on his face.

As he played, I asked if he owned any books. No. I looked at our shelf, which looked quite bare by Western standards but still held more than 30 children's books. I asked him if he wanted a book. Yes. Did he want one for his brother? Yes. I picked out two paperbacks from the shelf.

As I wrapped the books in a prized Ziplock bag, Josiah looked at me with his eyes wide. "I want to keep them," he said softly.

"We've got so many books, buddy. He doesn't have any. It would be so nice if we shared with him. Can you help me sign your name on the inside cover?"

He complied, a look of concern crossing his face. He thoughtfully turned to the boy. "Do you have a bag?"


I watched in surprise as Josiah handed over his prized construction-paper "helping kit", which he had made in Bible school several weeks ago and had since carried around the house proudly. He continued.

"Do you have a Daniel Tiger book? Do you have any markers?"

I was hesitant to intervene, but since he was on the verge of giving away gifts for which I hadn't yet properly thanked the senders, I did.

"I'm so glad you're sharing! What a great thing to do. Maybe we can give him some stickers to take home, too."

Looking at the boy's ragged little shoes on our porch, I wanted to give him so much more. I know very little about the developing world, as I have lived in West Africa only four months. But one thing I know: we can't fix poverty by halphazardly handing out "stuff".  The problems are so much deeper than surface needs, and so must be the solutions.

Earlier in the day, I had asked Josiah if he is ever afraid. He looked at me with enormous, serious eyes and said, "sometimes [I'll] get bad... and I will trust in God."

To receive a sentence-long sermon from your three-year-old is humbling, indeed.

Someti you will feel badly, little one. I wish it weren't so. The world is not kind to everyone, and suffering is in your backyard (or front yard) here.

People ask if we are scared about raising our kids outside of the United States. Honestly, the moral relativism and cultural filth inundating middle-class America is far more frightening than any disease or brokenness our children might encounter in the developing world. Safety, education, and comfort are not the goal for our lives, nor for our children's.

I am reminded of a scene in Narnia, where Mr. Beaver is asked if Aslan (a type of Christ) is safe:

" 'Safe?' said Mr. Beaver. 'Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the King, I tell you.' "

Following God is not always the safe path, but it is the good path. We can live with open hands, because He fills them, and fills them, and fills them with good things.

I hope somewhere in today's litany of disciplinary interventions, I taught my son a fraction of what he taught me. First, that God has given us much more than we need, and watches with joy when we give it away. And also: sometimes things will be bad, but we can trust God.


  1. Replies
    1. Glenn! You are here now, and I finally saw this comment. Grateful for you.

  2. Thank you for your testmony.....God is so glorified by your family .....and your children will always remember your example.....Josiah clearly knows the Lord already....amazing!

    1. Children have faith that we are to emulate! Thank you for your encouraging words!


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