In order to fully realize the answer to the question in the title, it would be helpful to look at the meaning of the word “train.” According to Dictionary.com and Mirriam-Websters Online Dictionary “train” means:
- to make proficient by instruction and practice
- to develop or form habits, thoughts, or behaviors by discipline and instruction
- to make prepared for a test of skill
Simply put, training our children includes imparting instruction AND opportunities to practice what they learn. The simple definitions make it sound so easy! However, we know from our own experiences that when we need to practice something, struggles, difficulties and even suffering may come with it. Let’s face it–watching our children go through those struggles is incredibly hard! There is solace, though, because His Word clearly tells us that those struggles and suffering are used to bring hope!
Romans 5:3-5 says, We will also rejoice in our sufferings because suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. When we reflect on this scripture step by step, we can begin to see how God uses the trials and tribulations we face in our lives, no matter how big or small, to bring us hope and to shape and mold us to be more like Him.
Suffering Produces Perseverance…When there is suffering for whatever reason, we are challenged to dig down deep and figure out how to stop the “pain.” This pain may be something as simple as figuring out how to complete homework on time so recess won’t be missed the next day, or it could be as difficult as trying to process a divorce, a tragic illness, or the loss of a loved one. Either way, suffering forces us to analyze our circumstances and then seek out ways to persevere through the pain.
Perseverance, Character…In our efforts to persevere, we may try several different ways to solve our problems within our own powers. For example, in the midst of an incredibly challenging time in my life, I made numerous attempts to prove myself and my worth to others. I did not stop my pain, though—if anything, deeper issues of the heart that needed to be confronted were uncovered. However, experiencing what didn’t work in my own power ultimately brought me to the end of myself; and it was only then that I was able to surrender completely and cast all my cares on Him. I know now that was the Lord refining my character.
Character, Hope. And hope does not put us to shame…When we finally surrender and leave all of our pride, ego, hurts, or shame at the cross, we no longer look to ourselves for the answers. We look to Him. And that is when we receive the transforming hope that is poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit.
You see, this entire “process” is how we are drawn to Him, so He can empower us to endure the challenges we will face on this earth. If we as parents, constantly intercede as the giver of hope to our children, then when will they learn to persevere? How and when will their character be developed? How will they recognize that they must come to the end of themselves, so hope can be poured into them by the Holy Spirit? If we try to omit any of these “steps” for our children, it bears asking, are we really training them in the way they should go?