“If I can just make it a little while longer…” Can you hear the wistful tone behind those words? It is the tone of the “this too shall pass” stage of life.
Moms of littles sigh it as they push through yet another sleepless night or endure the ordeal that revolves around every single outing, big or small. Mothers of teenagers breathe it as they pray for the day their child will finally take hold of independence and maturity. Hectic seasons and times of heartache produce it in profound measures as we ache for happier, easier times.
When older women hear the tone, they inevitably offer a reminder to “enjoy these moments, because they will be gone in the blink of an eye!” They remember the sweetness of a baby’s smile, the delightful evening of summer fun, or the joy of watching a teenager mature. But what about the challenges? The ease of their urges to “enjoy” seems to indicate a loss of memory when it comes to the constant exhaustion, strain, and fear.
Perhaps, though, their advice comes not from forgetfulness but from a deep realization of a truth that they wish someone had shared with them as they struggled through the tough seasons, always looking for this time to pass.
The truth these precious women have learned is that every stage of life has its challenge. The sleepless nights of the baby years turn into the perpetual exhaustion of chasing a toddler. Next comes the heartache of watching our sweet babies turn into children who are so excited about discovering their world that they test every boundary and push every limit. Within a few years, we begin to awaken to a different child every morning as our middle schoolers struggle through the changes that drag them from childhood and thrust them toward the teen and adult years. All the while, we know those teen years are yet to come, when growing independence often results in a battle of wills.
We think it will be better when they are out of the house, but then we discover that their rise to adulthood only produces a hole in our hearts with the knowledge that nothing will ever be the same again. Oh, if we had only enjoyed them a little more!
The lie of the “this too shall pass” mentality is that the next stage will automatically be better. Truth speaks differently. Truth reminds us that every stage has its difficulty. But it doesn’t stop there. It goes on to reveal to us that God’s glory shines most beautifully through challenge! Growth is most tangible, His presence is most coveted, and His Word is most precious when we cling to it through challenge.
Act on Truth
So, what do we do with that truth? We act on it by choosing to rejoice in the beauty of what God is forging through both the challenges and joys of this stage!
We delight in the precious moments shared as we cradle our babies in the middle of the night while the rest of the family sleeps. We marvel in the handiwork of God as we watch the tangible learning and growth of our toddler and preschooler. We thank God for salvation and pray for His work in the hearts of our children as we grasp opportunities to teach them about His grace and forgiveness. We marvel at the character the Holy Spirit is helping our children work out as they grow and mature. And we rejoice that God has no grandchildren as we encourage them to learn to hear the voice of the Lord for themselves as He grows them in wisdom and stature.
The challenges will remain. But, our attitudes will change as we recognize His hand every step of the way.
Serve in Truth
The lie of “this too shall pass” tells us that we are bound to insignificance as long as we struggle through the years of parenting. Once the babies are bigger, we can be more useful. Once the teens can drive themselves, we can be more flexible. Once they are all out of the house and we are no longer tied down by homeschooling or parenting responsibilities, we will be free to pursue true service.
Truth says that our good Father never wastes a season. We are servants right here, right now, no matter our supposed constraints. The Lord doesn’t have to work through us. He doesn’t need us. But He chose to create us so He could choose to work through us. Is that not profound? Almighty God, the Creator of everything that exists, the Lord and Ruler of all desires to work through us. Not just when we feel useful. Not in certain stages of life, but constantly, day in and day out, whether we feel useful or not.
We can enjoy and rejoice in each season because we can rest in certainty that this season is no accident. It is not a holding pattern. It is where we belong and where we are ordained by God to serve and glorify Him, no matter the circumstances.
That is where “this too shall pass” finally passes and becomes “in this will I glorify Christ.”