This is a content I wrote for our Apostles Family Ministry Newsletter and wanted to share it with all of you!
But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled,but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.
1 Peter 3:13-15
Whether you are a native New Yorker, or you moved here from somewhere else, it can be easy to see how a parent can live in fear. Rarely can you create a “bubble” of protection around your children in New York, whether you are trying to protect your personal space or physical safety. It is extremely hard to avoid uncomfortable situations, people who are different than you, or messages of sex, greed or philosophy that are different from your own views.
Engaging these things can be hard. We should not gloss over the fact that these things will be hard, but thanks to Christ we have a great hope. We also have the opportunity to share that hope with others.
God can, at times, show more through your struggles than he can through a perfect veneer. New York typically puts amazing pressure to be perfect with no opportunity to hide your imperfections. Parenting already exposes those imperfections, but we can rest all of our hope of being perfect in the fact that God is the perfect parent and that he is perfectly parenting us and he has already views us as perfect through Christ. We can show everyone around us that we rely on God in our struggles.
First Peter talks about the fact that we should “…have no fear, nor be troubled” when you suffer for righteousness sake. It shares with us that we should first look to “Christ the Lord as holy.” By first looking at Christ, we can remember the hope that we have in Him and we get to express that hope to others, even to the point of defending our hope. It is easy to have hope that lacks difficulty, but to have hope in suffering can be powerful.
Peter also speaks to how we could defend this hope, which is “…with gentleness and respect…” We may encounter other Christians who ask us to defend why we have our kids in this difficult environment, and we need to do it with gentleness and not arrogance. If we encounter non-Christians who ask us to defend the same thing, then we can do it with respect. The hope in defending our faith is for their good. People looking at us from outside may look to slander our choices. In their eyes, putting our children through suffering can cause them to judge or condemn us. However, our hope will not be in other people’s approval but should continue to be in Christ, and that “…it is better to suffer for doing good, should that be God’s will, than for doing evil…”
Ultimately, no matter where you are, no matter what you do, there will be some sort suffering. Even the most protected suburban subdivision will encounter suffering. The question is are suffering for God’s will or have we been seeking our own? Is the hope we have in Him or is it in the control we may have? Ultimately, whether we are in New York forever or if God calls you somewhere else, we can trust in the fact that “…we will be blessed…” if we “…suffer for righteousness sake…”