"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." -- Galatians 6:9
"Dirty Jobs is a program on the Discovery Channel, in which host Mike Rowe is shown performing difficult, strange, disgusting, or messy occupational duties alongside the typical employees. A worker or team of workers takes on Rowe as a fully-involved assistant for a typical work day, working hard to complete every task as best he can despite discomfort, hazards or repulsive situations" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dirty_Jobs). Some days that's the way parenting feels to me. It's not necessarily a dirty job, but it is hands down the most difficult task I face each day.
Perhaps the thing that makes parenting so difficult and challenging is the sin that both children and parents struggle with as we attempt to help our kids grow into responsible adults despite the hurdles and hazards they face. Parenting our children and training them "in the way they should go" (Proverbs 22:6) is the hardest thing we face most days, yet it is the highest calling we have as Christians. Those of us who have been redeemed from our own sinful pasts realize that as our divine Parent, God undoubtedly suffered the same broken heart over us that we now suffer over our children because of their sinful choices and behaviors.
I find it interesting that Galatians 6:9 is sandwiched between verses dealing with sowing to the sinful nature or to the Spirit, and doing good to all people. Paul writes, "Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers" (Galatians 6:7-10).
Even if we have trained up our adolescent children according to God's principles from an early age, there is no guarantee they will grow into responsible adults without taking a few dangerous and potentially catastrophic detours along the way. I certainly did, despite my Christian upbringing and my parents' best efforts to raise a good girl. Had I known the heartbreak my sinful acts and attitudes would cause them and the devastating consequences I would suffer as a result, perhaps I might not have strayed so far from God or remained in my sin for so long. Just as I'm sure my parents were, some days I am painfully aware that my best parenting is not good enough to keep my children from making mistakes or hurting themselves and others as a result of their sinful choices. The best I can do is pray for them, lead by example, discipline them appropriately, and pray that the consequences of their choices will be painful enough to send them running home to the arms of their heavenly Father.
As individuals who are "fully-involved" in the difficult job of parenting, let us pray for the grace and strength to continue doing good so that in due time we will reap the harvest of seeing our children turn back to the Lord, even when they are old. Let us love and do good to our children, even when we don't feel they deserve it, because God did that for all his children. If God so loved the world, including you and me, can we do any less for our children? Let us also do good to those in the trenches with us by offering them encouragement as they struggle with these same issues. After all, we are not the only parents on the planet. There are many walking casualties in the spiritual battle for the souls of our children.
"It's a dirty job, but someone's got to do it." God picked us, so we need to do the best we can for his glory and leave the results to him. Remember that we parents, too, once walked in darkness, but God brought us into his marvelous light. If we turned out well, why shouldn't we believe that our children will, too?