Cost Counting Both Ways: Some Lengthy Musings

This week I started a study of the Book of Exodus. It’s been refreshing to start a “dig deep” study from which I’m already benefiting. It’s been too long since I did this and God’s living and active word is having its affect on my heart.

And you’re about to read some real musings…smile. Musings are simply thoughts and ponderings for consideration or dialogue. They’re not rules or guidelines for people to follow. Smile.

In chapter 1 we read that after 400 years of favor in Egypt, the Israelites were yet again put into slavery by a new Egyptian king. Why? Because he observed how “numeous” the foreign Israelites were becoming. Historians think there were several likely reasons for this, including the fear that Egyptian enemies could find help in war from lots of Israelites or that Israel might eventually seek to take over the county like the Hyksos (also Jewish foreigners) had done for nearly a century earlier in their history.

Be patient as I quote from the Women’s Evangelical Commentary of the Old Testament:

“This king…perceived the people to be a threat and responded with suspicion and hostility….The pharoah’s plan indicates his belief that enslaving the Hebrews would separate husbands from their families, severely curtailing opportunities to conceive or provide for children, and that grueling physical labor would weaken them physically, crush their spirits, and ultimately disrupt the alarming population explosion of foreigners in the land.”

By the end of chapter one, he decreed that Hebrew baby boys would be killed at birth, leaving girls to grow up to become servants or wives of Egyptian men. As a mom, I can’t imagine the heartache of giving birth a son, only to face losing him to post-birth abortion by order of the government!

Thank God for godly midwives like the one who refused to kill newborn Moses. She had no idea her courageous refusal saved the life of the future deliverer of her people!

Satan’s attempts to prevent the proliferation of godly offspring didn’t end in 1440 BC with the enslavement of God’s people. This is what I was thinking about yesterday:

  • What do Satan’s attempts to prevent people from having and raising godly children look like today?
  • Why is it that couples who have three or more children often feel judged or mildly ridiculed for their decision?
  • What “enslavements” do today’s young parents and prospective parents face that may tempt them to limit family size?
  • What cost-counting considerations should today’s young parents do when making decisions about family size?

Yes, this is a mother of seven asking these questions and I’m not going to foolishly disregard the reality that having a large family influences my perspective on family size. But Benny and I didn’t set out to have a large family. After God gave this infertile woman a baby, we had no assurance more would come. But they did…even when we used birth control!

My desire is not to convince couples to have more children for the sake of having children. In fact, over the years Benny and I have counseled some couples to consider not adding more children to their lives for various reasons.

No, this wasn’t staged. Wyatt did this all on his own. Real family life.

Let’s be honest. Having and raising children is hard work. Aside from the financial and physical challenges, there is the sheer work involved in carrying, birthing, feeding, training, cleaning up after, disciplining, comforting and tending the heart of just one child into adulthood! Not to mention the potentially heart wrenching trials many parents face from serious illness, spiritual disinterest or teen rebellion, and watching young adults make sinful choices with hard consequences.

Whew. Why have children, then? Why risk any or all of that? Especially more than once or twice???

Because God has given Christian parents the stunning opportunity to put His glory and redemption on display. Believe me, I know how hard having children is. I spent 6 weeks on bedrest praying to save the life of my unborn baby girl. Stood over the incubator in the neonatal ICU and prayed my newborn son would be ok. Watched as a paramedic put a neck brace on my 10-year-old while remembering seeing the same on my quadriplegic brother after a swimming accident. Agonized over children making rebellious, sinful decisions as older teens. And sobbed over things that have happened in our family that seemed hopeless and unredeemable.

But God has been faithful. As my commentary says:  “God plans, promises, and proves faithful….This true story of God’s liberation, salvation, redemption, and rescue from Egypt powerfully foreshadows Christ’s liberation, salvation, redemption, and rescue from sin and death.”

Does that make your heart skip a beat? God’s redemptive plan in your and my families will never be thwarted. He will remain faithful to you…and to your children.  However many you have.  Faithfulness to protect and faithfulness to redeem from everything we would want to avoid happening.

Just like He has been to me. Today, the older teens I was so worried about are all

My Little People (Christmas 2011)

married to godly spouses and have children of their own. My unborn baby girl was worth 6 weeks on bed rest and is now a nurse. My newborn son turned out to be just fine and stands at 6 feet, 5 inches. (Well, he did take us threw a couple of tough toddler years with awful temper tantrums that scared and exhausted us!) Josh’s fall from the tree didn’t break his neck — but he gave me another scare 15 years later when he called me from the ER to say a cheerleader fell on his head during one of those “throw her in the air” tricks while he was reffing a basketball game.  And, by the grace of God, all seven of our children and eleven grandchildren are with us at Redeemer Church working side by side to bring the gospel to Lake Nona, Florida.

Young people: have babies. Have them for the glory of God. Let God, not culture or sin or Satan — or well-meaning friends or relatives or strangers (even those who tell you to have more than you believe God wants!) — convince you that raising children is too hard, expensive or life consuming.

Parenting is hard. Expensive. Life consuming. But each child comes with a Manufacturer guarantee of grace, wisdom, strength and gospel hope to see them become pillars of His church and proclaimers of the gospel for generations to come.

So count the cost of having kids. But also count the cost of not having them. Then raise the ones you have for His glory. Even through the hard times.