May 3, 1994
“How many times do I have to tell you to take your shoes off at the door...?”
Every time he came in, my brother had to be reminded. Finally, when he left home and later married, my mother was certain his wife would have the same problem, but she didn’t.
In a round-about way, a school guidance counselor explains why. She says when children behave well under the care of someone other than their mother, mother is doing a good job. She added that a child who is good at home but misbehaves when away from home, is either compliant or being controlled. When that child is on his own, he demonstrates that mother’s lessons have not been learned.
What a relief for mothers who wonder what is going on when their children are a handful for them but not for grandma or the baby sitter. Instead of developing an inferiority complex, they can sigh in relief; they are doing a good job.
Being a parent is not an easy task though. It requires lots of patience, something we never have when we take on the role. In fact, patience is one virtue that is more likely to develop as we do it – something like on-the-job-training, or steel being tempered in a furnace!
The Bible agrees patience is produced by trials. Romans 5:5 says “suffering produces patient endurance.” James 1:2,3 says, “Consider it pure joy... whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.”
But who of us welcomes trials and tribulations with joy? I know my mother didn’t stand at the door every night saying, “Oh, good, here he comes with manure all over his shoes and I have the privilege of watching him track it in the house or reminding him to take off his boots. I’m so happy.”
However, the Bible is not unrealistic. James was reminding his readers to consider their faith (their “knowing”) because faith would tell them God had a positive purpose in allowing them to experience trials. If nothing else, trusting God in them would bring the end result of patience.
While no one welcomes unpleasant tests, they are much easier to take when we can learn to focus on the good that will come out of them rather than on the tests themselves. It will be difficult to do that however, unless we believe God is able to produce good and that patience is an important virtue.
For that reason, James encourages Christians to recognize trials as not simply irritations but tests of our faith. When something unpleasant happens, our response to it will reveal whatever we really trust, and how much trust we actually have.
My mother didn’t have the latest in child psychology to tell her she needed to persevere. She must either persist in reminding my brother about his shoes or continually have him clean up after himself until he remembered on his own. She also choose her attitude, deciding patience would pay off. Without faith in God to help her maintain it, one can only imagine the consequences.
Other trials may be less or more severe. In any case, each of us also have opportunity to rely on God. Will the trial produce patience or will it result in anger, bitterness, or some other negative attitude?
Mom wanted clean floors. She also wanted a thoughtful son. God considered her desires and gave her both – and also blessed her with patience.