Last updated on March 5, 2021
“I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.”
And yet, we’re full of ideas about what other people should be doing with their lives. It doesn’t seem to occur to us that God is already having conversations with people. Can we trust God to give our friends and family members a purpose? Do we understand that God chooses a purpose for our kids, or do we try to do it ourselves?
Hannah is one of the most famous mothers in the Bible. (1 Samuel 1) But for a long time, it looked like she’d never become a mother at all. For years, she just couldn’t get pregnant. And she knew her husband wasn’t the problem because her husband’s other wife was popping out kids regularly. (In those days, men had as many wives as they could afford. And their families were completely dysfunctional.)
Hannah pleaded with the Lord for a child. She promised God that, if she had a child, she would dedicate him to God. She would deliver the child to the priests at Shiloh, and he would grow up in service to the Lord. God answered her prayer! And she made good on her promise.
Miracles are peculiar things. They’re rare, or they wouldn’t be called miracles. We don’t really understand why some people get miracles and others don’t. But there does seem to be a general pattern in both the Bible and in modern life. God seldom intervenes supernaturally unless something really big is at stake. Something bigger than our own personal hopes and dreams. Hannah’s son, Samuel, would grow up to be one of the most important leaders of the Hebrew people. He was responsible for uniting the people into a nation and establishing the kingdom. This miraculous birth was not just for Hannah… it was for the world. Miracles are not simply blessings for us to enjoy. They’re responsibilities for us to share. Thankfully, Hannah understood that.
I pray for my children every night. But I’m very cautious in how I do it, because I don’t presume to understand the life mission God has chosen for them. I just pray that they discern God’s purpose for their lives, that they’re good at it, and that it brings them joy. My kids don’t exist to make me happy. They’re not here to make me feel appreciated as a parent. And they’re certainly not here to provide grandchildren when I retire. I hope for all of those things, but I understand that God may have other plans. Christian parenting is not about giving our children a sense of purpose… it’s about helping discern that purpose for themselves.
What would happen if we approached everyone with that understanding? When we see people struggling in life, rather than assume that we know what they should be doing, maybe we should trust that God has already given them direction. All we need to do is ask, “How can I help?”