The only hope for parenting

Published on April 09, 2021

Our kids don’t always follow the script we’ve written for them. The truth is, in parenting we don’t always follow our own scripts. We hope things will work out a certain way, and they often don’t. We want our kids to follow God’s design, and sometimes they don’t. We make goals and don’t always meet them. We teach and instruct our children, and sometimes they don’t do what we say. We envision the way something will turn out and sometimes we’re disappointed.

Parenting is full of off-script moments. We find ourselves embarrassed, discouraged, worn out, or afraid. We put all of our hope in our children following our script, and when they don’t, we feel hopeless. We say, “This isn’t working out as we planned.” Or even if it does work out, we say, “What if it doesn’t last?” We begin to fear and doubt and long for a better plan. In those parenting moments, we acknowledge that we need something more, something bigger, someone to put our hope in who will not fail us.

The Psalms are a collection of ancient Hebrew songs. Songs are powerful. They express emotion, soothe the soul, teach us, and cause us to remember. Psalm 130 is one of fifteen Psalms of Ascent. These Psalms are songs of hope. Many scholars believe that they were sung by Jewish worshippers as they ascended the road to Jerusalem during Passover. God’s people would sing these Psalms of Ascent to remind themselves and their families that their hope could not rest in their circumstances nor in themselves. Their hope must be in God and his design.

I wait for the Lord; I wait and put my hope in his word. I wait for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning—more than watchmen for the morning. Israel, put your hope in the Lord. For there is faithful love with the Lord, and with him is redemption in abundance. – Psalm 130:5-7

Can you hear the parents singing the words of this Psalm to their children? You can picture the moms holding their daughters’ hands and singing these rich verses to them as a reminder that God will do what he says he will do. Perhaps the dads had their young sons on their shoulders as they passed on the stories and truths of their God in song. Wait on the Lord. Hope in his Word. Trust in his steadfast and redemptive love.

Notice the imagery in these verses. You have this watchman, this guard, this soldier doing his job. He is keeping watch over the people, their property, and their possessions. He is vigilant and alert. He doesn’t know if trouble will come in the night, but if it does, it’s his duty to recognize it and deal with it. The community is counting on him to do his job.

As he walks those walls taking responsibility and looking for danger, he no doubt has many concerns and worries. Would the enemy come? Would this be the night that disaster strikes? He would wonder to himself, “Can I defend these walls?” And every night, he would watch for the morning to come so he could be relieved of his duties and let his guard down. He watched for the morning not with an “I hope the morning comes” kind of hope. He watched and longed for the morning with expectation, confidence, and assurance. This is how we are to wait on the Lord and put our hope in him.

How many times has the sun risen since you were born? We’re going to go out on a limb and say the sun has risen every single day for your whole life (unless you live in the Arctic Circle). There has not been a single time where the sun failed to come up. If you are 40 years old, that means you have seen 14,600 sunrises. As long as you get to wake up tomorrow, you will most assuredly see sunrise number 14,601. We don’t worry about the sun rising. We know it will happen. It’s predictable. It’s certain. It’s trustworthy. The sun is going to rise.

Those who trust in the Lord hope with more assurance than that. Look again at Psalm 130:6, “I wait for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning — more than watchmen for the morning.

This Psalm illustrates and teaches us a necessary parenting lesson. It’s not a lesson that we just learn once and never forget. Our hope is not in our job, our position, our marriage, our possessions, our children, or our social status. We continue to learn this lesson again and again as we parent our eight children. It’s hard not to put our hope in the success of our children. So much of who we are is wrapped up in who they are. When they hurt, we hurt. When they struggle, we struggle. When they succeed, we are proud to cheer them on. We love them fiercely, but we can’t put our hope in them. We can’t even depend on our boys to take out the trash or pick their wet towels off the floor half the time, so putting our hope in them doesn’t seem very wise.

There was a time when our parenting confidence was sky-high. We thought we could manage, control, and scheme enough to avoid big struggles with our children. When you have eight children you learn quickly that they are all so different. Those of you who have multiple children know what we mean. You figure out that certain ones are going to be easier to parent than others. Some are more compliant and teachable while others want to figure everything out on their own (which for the Scroggins kids means doing it the hard way).

We already mentioned that one of our older boys had a brazen spirit. We were called to the principal’s office when he was in the first grade. He toothpasted his whole cabin at church camp in the second grade. As he got older, he was in fistfights, kicked off the football field, pulled off of basketball courts, and suspended from school. There were times we wished we could go back to second grade when the worst thing he could do was put toothpaste in his friend’s sleeping bag.

For a couple of years, we watched our son walk further and further from the Lord. It was frightening and heartbreaking. We got on our knees and prayed. We laid prostrate on the floor with tears streaming down our faces and begged the Lord to work in our boy’s heart. And in those moments of crying out to God, he strengthened us. We asked, “God, what if he never comes back to you?” God’s answer, “Your hope is in me.” “God, what if he does come back, but not until he has done something so irrevocable, something with permanent damage?” God’s answer, “You watch for the Lord your God.”

In those unsure and scary times, God was the only constant hope for our souls. Our hope was not that our son would repent—although we greatly desired that. Our hope had to be in God and his redemptive plan. We believed that if our son would repent, God would restore him and turn his brazen spirit into gospel-boldness. We learned to pray with more confidence because these experiences taught us to trust in God more. We knew we could not make our son follow God, but we could show him unconditional love and model what it looks like to hope in the Lord. This is one of the best gifts we can give to our children. We can allow them to see us live out our faith. It is really all God asks of us.

Eventually, our son’s story took an upward turn. He came back to the Lord. He repented and began again to pursue God’s design for his life. He graduated from The United States Military Academy and is now an officer in the Army. He has a beautiful wife and a growing family. He and his wife love Jesus and are looking forward to raising their children to know and love Him. To God be the glory, truly! 

We are all tempted to put our hope in things or people other than God. Some of you may have lost hope entirely as you have watched your children sin or struggle. We pray the words of Psalm 130 will remind you that God is with you. He has plans for you that are true and sure. God’s redemptive plan that he unveiled for the children of Israel is the same plan he offers to you and to your children. Through the gospel, God makes a way out of brokenness and allows us to recover and pursue his design.

Remember the goal is heart transformation, not behavior modification. God has called us to be the ones who train our kids to know and follow him. This is why it’s so important for us to remind ourselves that God’s design for parenting is:

  • Rooted in God’s love.
  • Revealed through his wisdom.
  • Fueled by his Word.
  • Sustained as we put our hope in him alone.

Excerpted with permission from Full Circle Parenting: A Guide for Crucial Conversations by Kristin and Jimmy Scoggins. Copyright 2021, B&H Publishing.

For other parenting related articles, check out the 3 blogs below:

  1. Hope for when honoring your parents is hard
  2. Five biblical truths to anchor your children’s identity in Christ
  3. Parenting overwhelmed children: Using God’s story to help navigate big emotions

Looking for more information on how would our parenting look different if we had the bigger picture in mind? Watch this video from Cynthia Yanof for three ways to focus on the big picture in parenting!

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Kristin & Jimmy Scroggins

Jimmy and Kristin Scroggins have been married for twenty-six years and have eight children: James (Reilly), Daniel (Mary-Madison), Jeremiah, Isaac, Stephen, Anna Kate, Mary Claire, and Caleb. They have served at Family Church since Jimmy became the lead pastor in July 2008. Under Jimmy’s leadership, Family Church has grown to a network of neighborhood churches in South Florida. The Scroggins family is passionate about Family Church’s mission to build families by helping them discover and pursue God’s design. 

Read more about Kristin & Jimmy

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