This is your goal today, self. This is your purpose.
Not “hope they behave so you can get some stuff done.”
Not “just survive.”
Not “give them a few minutes of attention so they are satisfied and will leave you alone for a little while.”
to not get your way
to be interrupted
to be taken advantage of by kids
to be unappreciated
to lose control of your schedule
to be bored, or exhausted, or irritated, etc.
Suffering will come to you for two reasons.
One: the work of God in you. He’s busy killing the old Adam and strengthening the new. He's pulling weeds, pruning branches. Do you expect this to be easy? Painless? Pretty?
Two: for the sake of those around you.
God calls the carpenter to his work by giving him skills, tools, materials. He calls you by giving you children, a husband, a family, a home-- neighbors, friends, a community. Your vocation, your calling, your God-given task today is to serve those around you. And that means putting aside your wants for the sake of the people in front of you.
Remember this, self, when little one misses the potty, again.
Remember this, when the restlessness comes, while playing blocks, or playdough, or when you are feeling (oh, the horror!) bored with little kid activities.
Remember this, when your chores are interrupted by little one’s cry, and you are running out of words and hugs.
Remember this, when you are called to share or set aside things that are precious to you for the sake of those around you. (free time, cookies, whatever.)
Today, you are called to suffer. So get ready. Arm yourself.
I do not jump out of bed and say to God cheerfully, “Well, God, how would you like me to suffer today?” I snooze as long as I can, then finally crawl out of bed. I sigh; I stagger to the kitchen, and I pray for a few more minutes of quiet before they wake up and it starts. IT. The talking. The needs. The suffering.
But notice something: we are called to arm ourselves.
This metaphor points us outside ourselves, not to the strength of our own hearts. We look outside, to Jesus whose death made us His children; outside, for His strength, compassion, patience, self-control; outside, for hope for our future in Him even as we live in this fallen world.
We grasp His hand. We abide in Him, and the Spirit strengthens our faith and our wills and our arms and our backs as we bear our daily crosses.
We receive weapons for battle. And we receive mercy and grace.
He sends naptime quiet,
and the soft sand of the ocean.
He places a hot cup of coffee in our cold hands,
and sends a breeze to make the fall leaves dance beneath a blue October sky.
He restores our souls and replenishes our ammo.
He calls us to suffer,and to fight sin, death, and the devil, in the world and in our hearts. Yet the call is wrapped in grace, and heard only by ears that have been opened by grace. We have hearts that trust the sufficiency of Christ’s death for us, and we shall not be put to shame. We have hands full of His gifts, and we will use them in service and in battle for the sake of our neighbor.
Father, how would you like us to suffer today? “Command what you will… only, give what you command.” (St. Augustine)
Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because whoever suffers in the body is done with sin. As a result, they do not live the rest of their earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry. They are surprised that you do not join them in their reckless, wild living, and they heap abuse on you. But they will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. For this is the reason the gospel was preached even to those who are now dead, so that they might be judged according to human standards in regard to the body, but live according to God in regard to the spirit.
The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.
(1 Peter 4:1-11)