It wasn’t just sympathy, it was pure empathy. It was 4 AM as my wife, kids, a friend, and I had been standing in line to check our bags at the airport. For over an hour we had been standing in the Frontier line. This line could have dwarfed even the longest lines at Six Flags. The sheer magnitude of the line made everyone seriously worried about missing their flight. As we progressed, I had been watching a young couple. The wife was probably 8 months pregnant and they were holding a little girl around 2 years old. In addition to everything they had already endured that morning, the child chose that very moment to let the entire airport know that she had reached her limit. She began an epic wailing that just might have made some nearby seismographs quiver. The parents’ consoling wasn’t working. They couldn’t leave the line since they were moments from the check-in desk. There was very little that this couple could do but hope the crying wouldn’t break any nearby glass.
Without a doubt, it was a moment of horror for these parents. I had walked in their shoes, and they were sneakers I never wish to walk in again. I felt very helpless for them, so I just offered what small measure of encouragement I could: “Hang in there guys, you’re doing a great job.”
I’ve encountered countless moments like this with my own family. I’ve encountered them in the airport and at the grocery store. I’ve encountered them at my friends’ homes. But perhaps more than any other, I’ve encountered them in the pew during worship.
It can be quite the challenge. We have felt embarrassed. We have wondered if judging eyes have fallen upon our family. We’ve wondered if disapproving eyes are critiquing our parenting. And more than anything else, we’ve had doubts if we’re doing things right as a parent. And then one of the most encouraging things happens — a sweet member will come up and say, “Hang in there, you guys are doing a great job.”
I know I’m not alone. Nearly every young parent wrestles with these very thoughts. So for all the parents out there, please hang in there. You’re doing a great job! Children are a tremendous blessing from the Lord (Psalm 127:3-5), and you’re bringing your children to worship the Lord. You’re doing what you can to train up your children in the Lord (Proverbs 22:6; Ephesians 6:4). So keep at it!
And for the rest of the members, please keep doing what you can to encourage us parents (Hebrews 3:13). Keep showing us love and smiles as we try to train up the next generation of leaders in the church. Keep helping us with our children when we’ve reached those overwhelming moments. Above all, keep praying for us. We need it more than we will ever admit.