Are our children too little to teach about suffering? Maybe too little to fully grasp the concept, BUT I believe if the truth is planted in them now to expect suffering, they will be better equipped with truth in their minds when their days of trials come. What does that mean practically? We are teaching and praying through the story of Jesus.
The reality is that Jesus suffered immensely. The Easter story is not a fairy tale! It speaks of deep pain, intense suffering, brutal heartache, and a Savior who endured it for the sake of you and me. In our preparation for Easter, we have been reading a Bible story leading up to the BIG day each Sunday. Today’s story was entitled, 'Jesus wears God’s Kingly Crown.' Exciting, right? Actually, it’s very sobering. When Jesus wore a crown at this juncture, it was a crown of thorns. It Hurt! As I was reading to Gunner and Moriah, we got to this page....
...where Jesus is arrested. Gunner had many questions. Mostly though, he couldn’t figure out why they were tying Jesus up.
"But mom," Gunner interjected, "Jesus wasn’t a bad guy."
"No," I responded, "You’re right, but these are people who didn’t like Jesus."
"You mean like enemies?" Gunner questioned.
"Well, kind of...." I began, but Gunner couldn’t wait any longer. His mind was running....
"Wait. If these are the enemies, maybe Jesus needs help! I bet if I had a knife I could cut that rope right off and set Him free!"
I couldn’t help but smile, but I continued explaining...."well, the truth is, Gunner, that Jesus COULD have freed Himself. He didn’t HAVE to die at the hands of these men, BUT He chose to so that He could spend eternity with them and you and me, IF we choose to follow and believe in Jesus."
As you can imagine, to a three year old it didn’t all click....YET.....but there will come a day when I pray this truth sticks in his mind and is seared into his soul. Jesus CHOSE to die so that He could spend eternity with souls of people He loved, whether they loved Him back or not. He thought we were worth the suffering!
Today we made crowns for Sunday School and talked again about the story of Jesus' death, burial and resurrection. I asked at the end of the story what each child's favorite part of the story was. Gunner responded enthusiastically, "...when Jesus rises from the dead!" I appreciated his energy because that truly IS the best part....the VICTORY! However, Moriah surprised us all and said her favorite part of the story was when Jesus died. I don’t think she completely understood the question, but I could tell she had been listening. I thought about her little two year old heart and ya know? She was right. Jesus dying is ALSO the best part of the story. Why? Because how would the swell of victory feel different if it had been a 'sure' win? If Jesus followers hadn’t felt defeat, they also wouldn’t have risen as high on the wings of Christ's victory. And also? If Jesus hadn’t died, He wouldn’t have conquered sin in the way WE so desperately needed Him to! To HIM be all the glory and honor and praise for writing the perfect story!