Today’s Scripture: It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth. He sitteth alone and keepeth silence, because he hath borne it upon him. He putteth his mouth in the dust; if so be there may be hope. He giveth his cheek to him that smiteth him: he is filled full with reproach. Lamentations 3:27–30

Comfort is not always the best way to grow plants or raise kids. In an article on gardening, Jan Riggenbach wrote, “Giving new bedding plants some rough treatment at planting time may be the best thing you can do to help them survive in the garden. . .If the plant has been growing in its pot so long that the roots are circling the bottom, I jab my finger into the bottom of the soil and pull down to untangle the roots. . .If the whole pot is filled with circling roots, I have to be merciless. I don’t worry if I break some of the roots; that’s better than allowing the roots to continue to circle when the plants are growing in the garden. Most bedding plants shrug off this rough treatment.”

Plants need rough treatment to help them grow to their fullest potential. This concept also applies to our children. They will be hurt plenty of times in life, and it’s not up to us to keep their roots from occasionally being broken. We ought to be teaching them reality: everyone will not like you; everyone will not be nice; not everybody believes in doing what’s right; everything in life isn’t fair. Allowing kids to experience the difficulties of life will cause them to send their roots deeper and grow. On the other hand, if we always comfort and overprotect them when they are hurting, they will grow up to be weak and dependent upon us.

What kind of kids do you want? Do you want “nice” kids who cannot take any pressure, or do you want strong kids who can handle adversity and the disappointments of life? The way you respond to your kids when they are mistreated at school, when they fail a test, when they face a difficult trial, or when their friends turn against them will determine how they grow. Teach them how to deal with reality, and they will be well adjusted in our fallen world.

Devotional by Dr. James A. Scudder