The other day my daughter was refusing to brush her teeth. I explained that there would be consequences if she did not do as she was supposed to. To which she responded, “Daddy, that’s not nice.”
Not Nice. “Nice” is a word that can mean different things to different people. To my young daughter, “nice” means doing what she wants to do and giving her what she wants to have. I suppose I know many grown people who feel similarly. To avoid confusion, rather than using the word “nice,” let us say that a parent’s job is first and foremost to be loving. I love you, and that is why I make you brush your teeth. I love you, and that is why you have to turn off the TV and go to bed. I love you, and that is why you have to pick up your own socks and I will not do it for you. Listen to how even the word “no” can be a word of love: No, you may not have another piece of cake. No, you may not jump off of your bunkbed. No, you may not play with firecrackers.
Just so, God does not always give us what we want, but He does always give us what we need to learn and to grow. Looking back, I can see that the most difficult situations in my life have always resolved themselves to my ultimate betterment. (Which isn’t to say that I got what I thought I wanted, but that something worth even more was revealed to me.) This history helps me have faith that whatever difficulty comes next, I will survive it and be even better for it in the end. My daughter has not collected enough life experience to appreciate the wisdom of her parents but, as a 34yo man, it would be an insult to God’s patient teaching over the course of my entire life if I could not show more than incredulity and dismay at the next lesson he sends my way.