This year was the first year of my life I put my kids on the school bus with hesitation. School shootings have stolen my peace.
I’m confident you are not alone in those fears. Our newscasts are dotted with heinous acts of violence, many of them involving schools and school-age children. Sadly, most of what we hear regarding education today relates to bullying, drugs, sex or violence. Those topics were formerly attached to adult-age students in college who rallied, partied or protested their way into our living room news cycles. But now our minors are seeing their share of trouble and tragedy...and many of them innocents. What are parents and guardians to do?
In Genesis chapter four, Adam and Eve became the first parents who lost a child to violence: Cain slew Abel. Gratefully, we then see a hopeful pattern begin. Our ancestral parents somehow recovered from that awful sin and conceived again, this time to birth the father of God’s people: Seth. “Adam had relations with his wife again; and she gave birth to a son, and named him Seth, for, she said, ‘God has appointed me another offspring in place of Abel, for Cain killed him.’ To Seth, to him also a son was born; and he called his name Enosh. Then men began to call upon the name of the Lord” (Genesis 4:25, 26, NASB.) Let us not brush off that last sentence of the chapter: “Then men began to call upon the name of the Lord.” God took the opportunity to change the Devil’s violent deed into something awesome. Would men have called upon the Lord without the Cain/Abel episode? Did it shock their parents into a place of dependence on God? Would Seth have been born if Abel hadn’t died?
I’m simply illustrating how ancient the history of violence and children really is. It remains and has always been a terrible thing. But it is also true and continues to be true, that we must entrust our offspring to God Almighty. We’re raising them in this fallen world, after all, and we cannot raise them in an aquarium. We are charged to release them into full lives; nurture them and guide them as best we can. Yet in the end, we cannot control the unfolding of their path, the events they encounter, nor the people involved. (Their God-given free-will and choices will affect many things out of their parents’ control as well.) Our role is to deposit our children into God’s care—to turn them over to him and trust him completely with the knowledge that he loves them more than we do and is a responsible parent himself. Do we believe what the Bible says or not? “He will not allow your foot to slip; He who keeps you will not slumber,”(Psalm 121:3.)
Unfortunately we also live in a day where families, even Christian ones, are out of order and plunged into chaos through grave misunderstandings of biblical instruction: “He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him early” (Proverbs 13:22, MEV.) Or “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6.) Or “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4.) In addition, sports teams...their games and practices...dictate church attendance and forfeit much needed rest for young minds and bodies. Electronics rob families of healthy interpersonal skills while the important family roundtable called suppertime is replaced with work schedules and homework. Children, angered by being an afterthought and inconvenience, are spoiled rotten out of parental guilt and are permitted to run the household with their emotional manipulations, demands and rabid disdain for authority. Is it any wonder school shootings occur?
As a parent, your relationship with Jesus is the most important relationship in your life. In him you’ll find the peace and confidence needed to raise your children and entrust them to his care. That, my friend, is good parenting and food for your soul.