On Christmas eve 2014, in the afternoon, the hospital said that all was well and we could go home. They were trusting Andrew and I, two amateur parents to bring home this little tiny baby and look after her. It was a daunting moment!
As we buckled her into her little carseat, we wondered whether we had the straps too loose or too tight.
We wondered if she was wearing too many layers or not enough layers.
When we got to the car, we wondered whether someone should sit with her in the back of the car. I don’t think that I have ever been so aware of the speed we travelled in a car before!
From this moment, we knew that we were entrusted with this beautiful little baby, and yet felt so inadequate in knowing how to take care of her. We wanted to protect her from every harm and danger.
We all want to protect our kids, don’t we? When they’re little, we worry if they are too hot to too cold, we worry when they don’t eat, or we worry when they eat too much junk!
We worry if they are getting enough sleep or sleeping too much.
We worry about how they are progressing developmentally – whether they are walking and talking earlier enough.
We worry about them settling into school – whether they’ll make friends, whether they’ll be able to do the work; we worry in case they get bullied or indeed are the bully.
We worry when they’re around people, we don’t know, when they’re out of sight at the park or in the soft play.
A lot of worries… and I’m only speaking as a mother of a 5 and 3 year old. Lots of you have enlightened me, that the worries and concerns don’t get easier – wait till they’re 9 or 10 you tell me, wait till you hit the teenage years, or, from you parents of adults, I hear that the worry doesn’t stop when your kids get up and move out of home.
The situations may change, the things you worry about for your children change – but your desire to protect them and shelter them from harm does not leave.
This season has not helped our worries – during lockdown, we worried about their education and our lack of teaching credentials; we worried about their lack of social interaction and the amount of time spent on technology. We worried about their mental well being as well as their physical. Even being back in school presented new issues and concerns for how we could shield and protect them from the danger of Covid.
So this week, we are confronting our fears about our children, our fears of not being able to protect them. We are looking at what Jesus says to us and how He can help lift the fears and anxieties we have when it comes to our wee ones and indeed all those we care about.
We are going to look at some family stories from the Bible this morning.
Firstly, we are going to look at a desperate dad, surrounded by despair, and how he brings Jesus into his situation.
Read: Luke 8:40-56
None of us want to be in the shoes of this dad in the story.
I know some of you maybe are in his shoes currently, perhaps some of you have journeyed that same painful story before.
A story where your child is ill. Desperately ill. A story where your child is dying. You’ve tried everything, and you don’t know what else to do.
This man, Jairus, it says that he was a ruler in the Synagogue, and it tells us that as Jesus comes back to Capernaum, there is a massive crowd gathering around him wanting to be near this teacher, healer, miracle worker.
And so Jairus, in his desperation, makes his way through the crowds and gets Jesus attention. He falls on his knees before him and pleads that Jesus would come and save his only daughter – she’s just twelve, and she’s dying.
Like any parent, Jairus wants, needs, to do something. And if this Jesus is what people say he is, then he’s going straight to Jesus to see if something can be done.
There are times in all our lives where we have looked at every option, sought out every source of help, and when we have finally come to the end of ourselves, we fall, pleading, like Jairus, at Jesus feet, begging him to do something, anything.
Jesus sees Jairus, sees his desperation and desire, and so Jesus comes with him to help the little girl.
But on route, someone else has need, someone else is desperate, someone else takes Jesus attention.
I wonder, as Jesus stops to find this person who has reached out to him for help, I wonder what Jairus is thinking? If it were me, I think I’d be annoyed, maybe frustrated. I’m already at my wits end trying to protect the one I love, and then something comes along to hinder or delay that help. It’s like waiting on that critical surgery, getting gowned up, and then being told that you have to wait, because an emergency has come in.
As Jesus is speaking to this other person in need, Jairus gets the news that he has been dreading; he gets the news that no parent ever wants to get – “Your daughter is dead!” His wee girl, his only child, is gone.
The messenger tells him not to bother Jesus any more. It’s like the messenger is saying, ‘it was worth a try, Jesus might have been able to help, but it’s too late now, let him go on to help someone else. It’s too late for us’.
Sometimes, as we pray, as we seek God, we get to that point too, don’t we? It’s not worth asking anymore, it’s too late, it’s past the point of doing any good. God must have his attention elsewhere. He must be too busy helping someone else, to help me.
And in those moments, we too are tempted to give up, to resign ourselves to the fact that it’s no use going to Jesus anymore. Hope has gone.
But as Jesus hears what the messenger has said, he speaks directly to Jairus, and says, “Don’t be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed.” “Don’t be afraid. Just have faith.”
Jesus is telling Jairus to ignore or silence the fear that was gripping onto Jairus heart in that moment, but instead to keep looking to Jesus, keep trusting, keep believing.
In that moment, Jairus has been offered a choice by Jesus – to be afraid, or to have faith.
The messenger has told him the facts, she’s gone, it’s hopeless, no point bringing Jesus now.
But Jesus, is giving a different message – he is calling for Jairus to ignore the facts that he has been told, to believe that the impossible, the unbelievable could happen. To trust Him.
And so Jairus, Jesus, Peter, James and John go to the house where the girl is. It’s already noisy and chaotic. The grief commotion has already started.
Grieving is a serious business in this culture. People who could wail and cry were like ringleaders during the wake. There was nothing stoic or ‘chin-up kind of attitude’ here. People were in pain, emotional pain, and there was no hiding it.
But as Jesus comes to the house, he doesn’t want any of these people in the house. It’s like he doesn’t want those who have signalled death to be present. There is no place for the voices of despair when faith and trust and hope is being called on.
He instructs those outside to stop wailing, it’s not the time to wail. He tells them that the girl is not dead but merely sleeping.
They laugh at this. I’m sure that a pulse has been taken and the time of death pronounced. So for this Jesus guy to come in and say that they’ve gotten it wrong – that its not final death but merely sleep – they find it absurd, ridiculous! She’s dead, and they think that he is deluding himself and the family to say otherwise.
But Jesus ignores their doubts, ignores their ridicule, and goes into that bedroom and does the impossible – he calls forth life. He takes this little girl by the hand and says, “my child, get up!” And miraculously, the girl gets up, as though she had just been sleeping! A total miracle. No denying it. For this family, in this moment, the pain of death has gone, and they have their little girl back.
As this father came to Jesus, pleading with Jesus, fearful that his daughter would die, he was told to trust, to have faith, to believe. Jesus is always saying, don’t listen to fear, trust me. In the darkest of days when your world is shaken and rocked, Jesus is saying trust me. Trust what I am doing, even if you don’t understand it, even if you feel that hope has gone.
I know that some of you listening have seen Jesus do miracles as you have brought your kids, your loved ones to Him. You have reached out to him in your desperation, and you know beyond a doubt that he has helped or healed or saved your child.
But I also know many others, friends, who have been desperate like Jairus, who brought their child before Jesus, pleaded for their child’s’ life and didn’t get the outcome that Jairus got. Some of you listening, struggle with this story because you feel as though Jesus overlooked or got distracted when you were most desperate. You have been forced to walk the painful path of losing your child. And this story is hard to hear because your heart cries out, why not my child? Why did he not save my wee one?
There is no answer. No easy answer anyway. Nothing that will bring your child back into your arms, they are in His arms, more free, more whole, more healed, than any of us have experienced on this earth.
Just like Jairus, Jesus calls on us to trust him. Trust, even when our hearts are broken. Trust when we have no idea why our miracle didn’t happen. To trust that God is sovereign over all and that He cares for those we love more than we ever could, and his plans and purposes for their lives may not be what we planned or hoped for.
We all feel that our children belong to us.
We planned for them, we make decisions for them, feed them, guide them and do our utmost to protect them. We feel a sense of ownership and entitlement over their lives.
I think we forget that our children don’t belong to us, they belong to God.
We worry and get consumed with fear when we hold onto the belief that they belong to us. We lie awake worry, fretting, planning and think that it is just part of the course of being a parent.
We even joke to other people, that as a parent, it’s our job to worry.
But God doesn’t want us to be worriers over our children. He doesn’t call us to that.
What are we called to?
God has called us to a position of responsibility in our children’s lives. But we don’t have ultimate responsibility for them – only God does.
After all, all people are God’s people – whether they are little or whether they are big.
Listen to Psalm 139… it reminds us who created us, who created our children:
“You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvellous—how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.”
The miracle of life belongs to God, he is the creator of each one of us. And therefore, the Creator has the rights to the created. Our children are individuals who God created for His own good pleasure from the physical bodies of other created beings. We are all created by him, and all belong to Him.
This Psalm tells us that we are his, that means our children are his, every day of all our lives is ordained, laid out, recorded by Him.
God has entrusted these little people into our lives for a season. Sometimes that season is a long time, sometimes that season is a short time. Only God is in charge of all our days.
It is so important to remember this – that our children belong to Him. We need to mentally keep giving them back to HIm. If we don’t, our worries and fears for their lives will either cause us to cling to them for fear of losing them, or try to control them, when it’s not our place too.
I love the story of Hannah in 1 Samuel 1 – she longed for a child, pleaded for a child, told God that she would give her child back to Him, and eventually, God granted her request and gave her a child. Her dreams came true. All of her pain and heartache was gone when Samuel was born. But Hannah did not cling to her son, Samuel, she gave him back to the Lord, literally, she brought him to the tabernacle to serve, just as she said she would.
As much as she knew that she was his mother, he ultimately belonged to God.
God isn’t calling us to bring our children to Alvin’s door, but He is calling us to surrender, trust, leave our kids with Him. To not fear or worry that we can’t protect them, but instead to bring them before Him time and time again. To allow Him to work out His purposes in our lives, and in their lives, and to trust what He is doing.
In Genesis, we have the account of Abraham. He and Sarah were old, they didn’t have any children, but God promised to make Abraham a father of more people than there were stars in the sky. As Abraham entered into a covenant with God, and vowed to make God his God, then he became a father to Isaac. What a joy and delight for Abraham and Sarah in their old age to have given birth to a son. A real answer to God’s promise.
But in Genesis 22, it says that God tested Abraham. Verse 2 tells us, “Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain, I will show you.”
What? God gives a promised son to Abraham, and them asks him to give his son up!
For Abraham, it was going to a question of trust. Did he trust God to fulfil his promise. Did he trust God to do all that he said he would do. He could have clung tight to Isaac. He could have refused to give Isaac back to God. But he didn’t. He took his son, whom he loved and prepared to sacrifice him to to Lord.
Thankfully, we read verse 10, “Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”
“Here I am,” he replied.
“Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”
Abraham had passed the test. He showed God that he trusted Him, even to the point of giving his son.
We need to be willing to give our children back to God – they belong to Him. We have been entrusted them to guide, shepherd, love, care for – but their lives are in the hands of God.
I read this recently and found it helpful: “Because we don’t create our children, we don’t get to set the ultimate purpose for their lives. God does. This is helpful to us because things will happen to our children that we don’t like, but we can trust that God (their true Creator) is in control of those things. If we trust God, we fear less. If we fear less, we shepherd more faithfully.”
Things may happen in their lives that we don’t want, they may make choices that we can’t control, you may do you best job to parent them, but they still end up going off the rails – so we have a choice – are we going to be consumed with worries and fears or are we going to hold our children with an open hand before God and trust what he will do.
Finally, practically… what can do to ease our worries and calm our fear? Are there practical changes we can make from today?
Like Jairus, like other parents in the gospels, we can bring our kids to Jesus, trust what He will do in their lives and keep reminding yourself that God loves these people more than you know, and will work our his purposes in their lives. God knows what it is to have a child suffer, get hurt, get mistreated, be misunderstood, betrayed, and die. He knows, and He understands our pain and struggle. There is no better place for us to come to. They belong to Him!
As Christians, our main responsibility is to pray for our kids and those we care for,
teach them who Jesus is,
and show them what life looks like with Him.
Have you heard God’s voice speaking to you this morning… asking you to trust Him, to trust Him with your children, those you care for because He created them, knows them and loves them, even more than you do. They belong to Him. Have you sensed his prompting to give your children back to him, they are not your possession, you merely steward and shepherd them in this life. Have you felt a weight of worry lifted from your shoulders, have you sensed your fears of protecting them ease because you know they are in the care of the Almighty God for his purpose and plans.