Thursday, December 10, 2015
Not always a blessing at the moment. . .
Those who would suggest that children are a blessing from the Lord often sound like naive people who live in a Polly Anna world or doctrinaire people who are intent upon uprooting life as we know it (including our love affair with technology and the media). Watch the Duggars and you got the idea that no child was a problem or a sacrifice but returned blessing upon blessing to the family without end. The truth is that while children are always a blessing from the Lord, God has not guaranteed that a child will be convenient, easy, cheap, or a good investment of time and money. Children are not a blessing because we find them so. If that were the case we would not have to worry so much about scarce resources or overcrowding. Even Christians with large families admit that children are not always a blessing at the moment -- love is sacrificial and it requires us to sacrifice when and what seems to come always at an inconvenient time.
If we do believe children are a blessing, then we also need to do a better job of supporting those whose children are not a blessing at the moment -- the family struggling in the pew, at the grocery store, or just plain struggling. If we do believe children are a blessing, then we need to speak more forcefully and positively about the sacredness of life and about the fact that it does take a village to raise a child and support a family! Even Hillary got it right on that one (though she was using that fact in the wrong way). The Church is part of the village supporting the family -- often because the mom and dad live far away from the ordinary village of grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, and extended family.
We have been fairly successful at saying what we are against (abortion, for example) but we have not yet been as forceful in saying what we are for -- children! They are a blessing from God even when they do not seem a blessing at the moment, when the stresses of mortal life are made even more complicated and demanding by those children, and when our commitment to children makes us stand out from a world not so sure they are blessing unless you have all the money, time, and patience in the world. So it is okay to admit that children will not always be deemed a blessing from our point of view and it is fine to admit that love is always sacrificial even when it is easy and pleasing and that it does take a village of people to support the parents in their task. We should not wait for programs to take up the cause of helping the families for whom this child right now is not a blessing. For that is also part of the vocation of the baptized who have been adopted into the family of God and declared a blessing to the Lord even though it cost Christ all to love and save us!