PARENTING AND THE HOPE FOR OUR CHILDREN
We just got a new bundle of joy. Ivanna Njeri Wamboye. The name Ivanna is of Hebrew origin. It means gift from God. Turi and I are blessed to usher in our second born into this world. We are eager to see our first daughter’s reaction when she sees her new sister. Our first born is Thandiwe (Xhosa for loved one). We call her Thandi for short. Throughout the pregnancy we have been preparing her. I showed her two videos on my phone of Ivanna crying; Thandi was mesmerised. She played the video over and over as she smiled! Our desire is to raise these girls in the ways of the LORD. Here are a few common things we did with both births. These are inspired by 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 which states “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (NIV).
Rejoice always (1 Thess 5:16)
Turi and I recognize that a family is complete without children. We heard testimonies of people who tried to get pregnant but it just did not happen. One of these couples took us through the premarital class on children and marriage. They had waited for 13 years. They faced the social stigma. They had moments of unhappiness. But they rejoiced in God because even without children they were complete. They got their first child in their forties. We are cognizant that some do not get them at all. In some Kenyan traditional societies, not having children could lead to a dissolution of marriage or an acquiring of a second wife. Turi and I were firm on staying together regardless of the culture’s narrative. We wanted kids after our second year. We waited for another two years. Thandi came in our fourth year of marriage. And when she came it was truly a blessing because the gynaecologist’s report had declared Turi infertile and unable to conceive. After receiving that report, we were doused for a while. But we remembered that the scriptures are clear in Psalm 127:3 that children are a gift; they are not a right. And since a gift is dependent on the giver and not the receiver we decided to rejoice in our situation.
It is good to note that often when the New Testament gives the imperative to rejoice, it is an imperative given in the plural. You rejoice; you all; yous; y’all rejoice. The English language does not distinguish conjugation in singular or plural like many other languages do. English just says you. But the imperative is often plural- you all. It seems to imply that rejoicing must be done in community and not singularity. This way we can encourage one another; even those that do not feel like rejoicing when they hear the bad report. I challenge husbands and wives to work as a team in the sadness and to rise together as team to rejoice no matter the circumstance you are facing. Whether you get children or not, God is sovereign and he knows your situation. And if you are born-again then it is even better because in rejoicing in the LORD you will find strength (Nehemiah 8:10). Such tough moments can reveal your heart. If we remain intransigent that we want what we want and dismiss God’s sovereignty, it may be that we have idols in our hearts. That we want what we want more than what we have; that we desire God’s gifts more than God. The danger with idols is that even after you get them, they bring you anguish because they cannot give the satisfaction your soul was made for- intimacy with your creator. Rachel wanted children from Jacob so badly that she said, “Give me children or I will die!” (Genesis 30:1). She did get the children alright and with the birth of her last born, Benjamin, she died. A perfect way to rid the idols of our hearts is to rejoice in their absence and ask God to fill us with his strength. The joy of the LORD is our strength. Having children is not our strength; the LORD is. Rejoice always!
Pray continually (1 Thess 5:17)
Turi and I have been firm on prayer this year. Personally, I have fasted more frequently. I decided to fast once a day every week until I die. I have seen my prayer life enriched and I have seen God answer my prayers even quicker than I anticipated, I have also grown to love the LORD deeper as I spend time in his presence. We prayed for our children before they were born. We still pray. What do we pray for? We pray often for the following things. Firstly, we pray that they may come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. We prayed this while they were still in the womb. We prayed that God would convict them of sin, righteousness and judgement. We prayed that they would have humble and receptive hearts to the Gospel. We prayed that they would follow Christ Jesus passionately and make him their ultimate soul’s treasure. We prayed that the love of money, the love of pleasure and the love of self would be defeated at the cross and that they would not walk in idolatry. Secondly, we pray that God would help them discover their purpose and their gifts at an early age. We prayed that as parents we would not be a hindrance to that process by making them follow our dreams. We pray that they would exercise their gifts for God’s glory and not for self. We prayed that they would be courageous for God in their time. Thirdly, we prayed that their walk of life would not be hampered by purpose killers such as sexual sin, drug abuse and all sorts of addictions. We are aware the Devil only comes to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10). We prayed that they would live chaste lives and be responsible with their bodies and their souls. We prayed that they would influence their generation for God by standing up against these evils. Fourthly, we prayed for their future marriages. We prayed that their husbands may be better than them. More humble, more pure, more loving, more into Jesus. We prayed this and do the same for our girls so that the bar is raised for the men. We prayed for those husbands wherever they are that God would keep them, protect them and prepare them. We prayed that they would be true to their vows and not divorce. Sixthly, we prayed that the LORD may protect our girls from unnecessary harm in all manner and forms (rape, gender violence, murder, assault, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, toxic relationships etc). We even prayed in their birth that the LORD would protect them from colic and health related problems. But we also prayed that they would be sober to see God use the painful experiences of their lives for good. We prayed that the broken would be attracted to our children and that they would be conduits of healing for those that are hurting. We still pray this, without ceasing. We even have a prayer timetable we use. Pray always!
Give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thess 5:18)
Paul says to give thanks in all circumstances because this is God’s will for us in Christ Jesus. There is always a reason to be grateful. In a world of complainers, God want us to be grateful. Grumblers never see a reason to be grateful. We want our children to see us be grateful people as they grow up. When finances are high and low they ought to see us give thanks. When health is good and bad they ought to see us give thanks. When friends desert us and remain with us they ought to see us give thanks. They ought to see that gratitude is an attitude. We don’t want them to think that gratitude is based on favourable circumstances. Especially as believers we want that to see that we are called to share in Christ’s sufferings as well as his victories (Romans 8:17). We don’t want to sell them a cheap, impoverished and false gospel that says if you love God nothing bad will ever happen to you. We don’t want to sell them the lie that asks “Why do bad things happen to good people?” The last time that happened to someone, he was crucified and he volunteered for it. We want them to see us give thanks in highs and lows and to know that God’s will is not hindered by pain and suffering. And he calls us to share in his resurrection but also in his death. We want them to see Paul and Silas in prison, whipped and bleeding for doing God’s will but singing hymns. We want our children to see that they don’t need to wait for the winds to change to give thanks. They can give thanks in the storms and be pleasantly surprised when the winds change. We want them to see it in our prayer life as well. The Bible says in Psalm 100:4 to enter God’s courts with thanksgiving in our hearts and with praise. We don’t want our children to see us enter God’s presence with grumbling in our hearts and with complaints. We want them to see us start our prayers by thanking God.
We pray for God’s grace to guide us in all this. And hopefully we can idealise the words of Rev. Peter Tan Chi, “You cannot change your ancestors but you can influence your descendants.”
We take this moment to invite you to our DATING CLINIC session this Friday night on building a purpose-led relationship. Venue is CITAM Valley Road. Time is 6:00-8:30 PM. 500 KES per person. To register, send your full names and phone number to firstname.lastname@example.org.